Lake Placid

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Tucker West wins closest World Cup luge race in 4 years

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LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — Tucker West and his sled were too heavy last week.

This week, they were too good.

West won his second career World Cup luge gold medal Friday, edging Russia’s Semen Pavlichenko by the smallest margin of victory on the circuit in nearly four years. West finished two runs on his home Mount Van Hoevenberg track in 1 minute, 43.088 seconds — a mere 0.006 seconds faster than Pavlichenko, who was in position to win until the very last curve of the competition.

“Luckily, I showed up today,” West said.

His win was part of a big day for USA Luge. Earlier Friday, Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken of Germany won the doubles race, narrowly beating Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman — the first Americans doubles sled to medal in a World Cup since 2010.

Put another way, Germany went five days without winning a World Cup doubles medal. The U.S. went six years without one.

“It’s been a long journey, for sure,” Terdiman said.

It was a long week for West, who was in second place at the midpoint of last weekend’s season opener in Winterberg when he was disqualified for being overweight.

He more than atoned for that Friday, adding this gold to the one he won at Lake Placid in 2014.

“It was disappointing last week, sitting in second and having that taken away from you by a technicality,” West said. “Obviously, that’s going to be disappointing. But I saw the speed was there and I was looking forward to this week, being on home ice and in front of friends and family. I was angry, I was determined to do better and I was hungry to do it.”

Wolfgang Kindl of Austria was third, 0.094 seconds behind West. Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. took fourth.

In the doubles race, Eggert and Benecken finished their two runs in 1:28.382. Mortensen and Terdiman took the silver in 1:28.545, and Robin Johannes Geueke and David Gamm of Germany were third in 1:28.726.

Eggert and Benecken are now 3-for-3 this season, having swept the doubles season-openers at Winterberg last weekend.

The last U.S. World Cup doubles medal was a bronze for Terdiman and Christian Niccum on Dec. 4, 2010. American doubles teams had not reached the podium in 60 World Cup races since, including sprint competitions.

“This one will taste better, I think,” Terdiman said.

The Americans didn’t even have to wait to see the scoreboard at the finish line. From the roar of the crowd as they made their way out of the final turn, they knew a medal was theirs.

“I’m really hoping this is the stepping stone for a brighter future,” Mortensen said. “This shows we can get in there. This was part of our four-year plan, to get a medal this season, and now we’ve done it early and this is fantastic.”

U.S. women’s luge star Erin Hamlin said Mortensen and Terdiman knew after last weekend’s World Cup opener, where they finished fourth in the sprint race and sixth in the doubles, they were sliding well enough to compete.

Coming to home ice apparently was the final piece of the puzzle.

“This year’s been really good for them,” Hamlin said. “They’ve had really solid training. I think they’re finally at a point where they’re pretty comfortable on their sled, really enjoying sliding and feeling good about sliding. So I think it’s exciting to see.”

The World Cup resumes Saturday with the women’s race and team relay. USA Luge swept the podium in the women’s race at Mount Van Hoevenberg last year.

MORE: Bobsled, luge, skeleton season broadcast schedule

Miracle on Ice player, father to auction Olympic gold medals

Dave Christian gold medal
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Their Olympic gold medals and other memorabilia have been spending more time in safety deposit boxes than on display, so Bill Christian and Dave Christian decided the time was right to auction them off.

The father-son collection, currently up for online bidding, will be sold later this month.

As treasured as the items are, parting with them wasn’t as difficult as people might have assumed.

“Whether or not we have it in our hand, we still both won gold medals,” said Dave Christian, a key member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that produced the “Miracle on Ice” who went on to play 15 seasons in the NHL. “The memories and all the stories and what not, they won’t ever go away.”

Bill Christian was a star on the 1960 team that also beat the heavily favored Soviet Union on the way to winning Olympic gold. For the auction, the two of them pulled out dozens of items, from game-worn jerseys and game-used equipment to plaques, rings and trophies celebrating a host of hockey triumphs.

“Whatever we could find that had made many, many moves and been stored away,” Dave Christian said. “Better to part with it than let the moths eat it.”

The proceeds will go toward college funds for his five grandchildren, said Dave Christian, a native of Warroad, Minn., who’s now 56 years old and living in the Twin Cities area. Bill Christian, age 78, is a resident of Naples, Fla.

Heritage Auctions will conduct the public sale in New York the weekend of Feb. 20-21. Derek Grady, the company’s vice president of sports memorabilia, said the collection will bring in more than $500,000 and probably more. Dave Christian’s gold medal alone is pegged at $300,000.

Last year, Heritage Auctions handled a similar auction for the family of the late Herb Brooks, who coached Dave Christian on the 1980 team. That collection more than doubled the initial estimate, Grady said. The ring Brooks received for the 1980 Olympics fetched $113,525.

“People connect with sports, and the value of sports collectibles has shot up,” Grady said. “I think people are diversifying their investments. If you see the rise of sports memorabilia over the past 20 years, it’s been on par with or better than the stock market, if you buy quality items.”

Rarity, naturally, is the primary driver of value, and material from the 1980 Olympic team is always a big sell.

“Most people in their 40s and older remember where they were when they beat the Russians. So to get a piece of that team, whether it be a jersey, a medal or a stick, is significant to a person,” Grady said. “I think that’s why that team was so beloved. They’re a great group of guys.”

MORE: Highlights from the Miracle on Ice reunion

U.S. women notch unprecedented luge World Cup sweep

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The U.S. women’s luge team swept a World Cup podium for the first time, defeating the mighty Germans in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Saturday.

Olympic bronze medalist Erin Hamlin notched her first career non-sprint World Cup win, breaking the track record in her first of two runs. She was followed by Emily Sweeney and Summer Britcher.

“This was just the one last check in the career,” Hamlin said, according to The Associated Press.

Olympic champion Natalie Geisenberger was fourth. It’s been at least 18 years since a major international women’s luge podium (Olympics, World Championships, World Cup) didn’t include at least one German, when Germany sent its best lugers.

Hamlin became the second U.S. woman to win a non-sprint World Cup luge race since 1997, joining Olympic teammate Kate Hansen, who topped the podium in the final World Cup of the 2013-14 season before the Sochi Olympics.

MORE LUGE: U.S. men have historic 1-2 in Lake Placid