U.S. lugers will not compete in the first four World Cups of the upcoming season, sitting out stops in Europe in November and December for athlete and staff safety.
“We are a group that’s geared and motivated by racing, so to take this action is disappointing,” USA Luge CEO and executive director Jim Leahy said in a press release, adding that consultation with health experts and a team physician led to the decision. “We believe that staying in the U.S. until the end of the calendar year is our safest course of action.”
The current plan is for U.S. lugers to travel to Europe in the final week of December, though a season debut has not been set.
After the first four World Cups in Austria and Germany, the season resumes in Königssee the first weekend of January for the final five World Cups.
In late January, Königssee hosts the world championships, moved from Whistler, B.C., due to coronavirus pandemic-related travel issues. There are also no World Cup stops in North America this season.
International lugers are expected to spend much of February in China, certifying the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic track.
Last week, USA Bobsled and Skeleton announced it would not send athletes to its first four World Cups in Europe in November and December. Like with bobsled and skeleton, USA Luge plans to hold selection races domestically before going to Europe.
U.S. lugers Summer Britcher, Chris Mazdzer, Emily Sweeney and Tucker West have all won individual World Cup events. Mazdzer, the surprise 2018 Olympic silver medalist, also competes in doubles with Olympian Jayson Terdiman.
“This is certainly not the schedule that we envisioned, but it’s one that has been thrust upon us,” U.S. head coach Robert Fegg said. “In the short term, we are anxious to return to sliding and getting as many runs in as possible prior to heading overseas.”
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