Tucker West left no doubt, clinching his second U.S. Olympic luge berth with a World Cup podium Friday. Two of his countrymen, meanwhile, are going to PyeongChang by a fraction of a second.
The doubles team of Justin Krewson and Andrew Sherk made the Olympics by six hundredths of a second in Lake Placid, N.Y. That meant Jake Hyrns and Anthony Espinoza missed the Olympic team by six hundredths of a second.
The race for the last doubles spot was the most exciting as the U.S. luge team was finalized at the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic site in the last 24 hours.
Krewson and Sherk, first-time Olympians, are part of this full U.S. luge team for PyeongChang:
Erin Hamlin (qualified last month)
Matt Mortensen/Jayson Terdiman
Justin Krewson/Andrew Sherk
The full list of U.S. athletes qualified for PyeongChang across all sports is here.
All of those 10 lugers competed in Sochi save Sweeney, Morris and Krewson and Sherk.
Krewson, 21, and Sherk, 25, were essentially in a race-off Friday with Hyrns and Espinoza, both 24, for the second and final doubles berth behind Mortensen and Terdiman.
Hyrns and Espinoza had the edge by .012 after the first of two runs but slowed negligibly in the second run.
Krewson and Sherk sped up in the second run to steal the Olympic berth with a sixth-place finish overall, matching their best result since teaming in 2015 (Sherk previously slid with Hyrns).
Mortensen and Terdiman were fifth in Friday’s race won by Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken, the Germans who captured the last seven World Cup doubles races dating to last season (non-sprint). Full results are here.
Mortensen and Terdiman, who raced in Sochi with different partners, made three World Cup podiums last season and finished third in the season standings.
A U.S. doubles team hasn’t won a World Cup race in 12 years or an Olympic medal since 2002.
Later Friday, West went into the last Olympic qualifying race knowing his PyeongChang berth was nearly sewn up. It would have taken an incredible finish from two other Americans to bump him off the Olympic team.
No matter, West set the track record in his first run and ended up third overall (losing his track record to Russian winner Roman Repilov in the second run).
But no U.S. man has made a World Cup podium on a non-North American track since February 2016.
The World Cup stopped at the PyeongChang Olympic venue last February, where the top American was Mazdzer in 12th. That did not boost hopes for the first U.S. Olympic men’s singles luge medal this February.
Morris, who missed the 2014 Olympic team by one spot, made the Olympics with a fifth-place finish Friday. Mazdzer was eighth.
The women’s team has been the U.S.’ strongest in recent seasons and heads to PyeongChang with multiple medal hopes.
It is led by Hamlin, the Sochi bronze medalist who was the first luger to make the Olympic team last month. Britcher and Sweeney each clinched berths before the final qualifying race Saturday.
Britcher went to Sochi as a surprise U.S. Olympian — youngest on the women’s luge team at age 19 — on her first season on the World Cup circuit.
Britcher finished 15th in Sochi, third out of three U.S. women, after upsetting 2010 Olympian Julia Clukey for the last spot on the team.
Since, she has won three World Cups and made the podium in four others. Britcher at one point led the World Cup standings early in the 2015-16 season.
Britcher’s consistency this season helped her qualify for the Olympics without having to sweat it out in Lake Placid like the doubles teams and some of the men.
Ditto for Sweeney, who won a World Cup sprint race (a non-Olympic event) in Winterberg last month.
The Olympic favorites are Germans Natalie Geisenberger and Tatjana Huefner, the last two gold medalists.
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