Summer Britcher, Emily Sweeney eye Olympic debut of women’s doubles luge

Summer Britcher
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Americans Summer Britcher and Emily Sweeney, who own a combined five Olympic singles luge appearances, are joining forces for the debut of women’s doubles on the World Cup this season as the event’s Olympic debut nears.

“When the IOC announced womens doubles will be in the 2026 Olympics in pursuit of gender equality we decided to be all in,” Sweeney posted on social media. “Since Summer and I started training for doubles together in July we have been living in the learning curve. And I’m loving it. We’ll see how our experience in singles transfers over in the first World Cup.”

The first World Cup women’s doubles event is Dec. 3 in Igls, Austria.

In June, the IOC announced that Olympic doubles luge will be divided into separate events for men and women in 2026. Doubles was previously open to men and women, but no women ever competed at the Olympics.

“Back in May we decided to take on this challenge together, and then we waited with fingers crossed for the International Olympic Committee’s ruling on Women’s Doubles inclusion in the 2026 Olympics,” Britcher posted. “In June, they ruled in favor of gender equality and inclusion, and everything was set into motion.”

In December 2019, Canadians Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless became the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race. Women’s doubles was added to the junior World Cup last year. A women’s doubles world championship was held last January. German teams went one-two. American teams finished third and fourth.

Britcher, who owns the U.S. luge record of five World Cup singles wins, and Sweeney, the 2019 World bronze medalist in singles, will not compete in singles and doubles every weekend. Singles will be the priority.

“I’ve heard for a really long time people compare [singles] to driving a Ferrari and then getting behind the wheel of a bus and trying to race [doubles],” Britcher said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a totally accurate description, but it’s definitely different.”

Britcher has the top Olympic finish between the two of 15th from the 2014 Sochi Games. Erin Hamlin is the lone U.S. woman to win an Olympic luge medal, bronze in 2014.

Chris Mazdzer, who added doubles to his plate after taking singles silver at the 2018 Olympics, plans to race a partial season and only in singles, according to USA Luge. Mazdzer, 34, wants to spend more time at home with wife Mara and 18-month-old son Nicolai.

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Natalie Geisenberger, six-time Olympic luge champion, pregnant with second child

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Natalie Geisenberger, a six-time Olympic luge gold medalist, is pregnant with her second child and will sit out the upcoming season, the German luge federation confirmed.

Geisenberger, 34, announced on social media over the weekend that she is pregnant. She has not said whether she plans to return to competition after her pregnancy, which she did after having son Leo in May 2020.

Last February, Geisenberger tied the Winter Olympic record by winning a third gold medal in the same individual event. She was also part of the German luge team’s third consecutive relay title.

Geisenberger had planned to end her career after her third Olympics in 2018, then returned from childbirth for the 2020-21 season. Back then, she said she had no plans to stop sliding after the 2022 Olympics.

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Johannes Ludwig retires after winning Olympic luge gold

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Johannes Ludwig, who became the oldest man to win Olympic luge gold days shy of turning 36, is leaving the sport on top.

Ludwig announced his retirement on social media on Monday, saying he was looking forward to a new chapter, spending time with his family and in his role with the federal police. The post included a photo of Ludwig with his children, Carlson and Winnie.

“Luge has been the essence of my life since I was 6 years old,” Ludwig said, according to an International Luge Federation translation. “In the past 30 years, almost every day was determined by skating and demanded a great deal of deprivation from me, but also from my family environment.”

Ludwig previously said he would likely end his career at the 2023 World Championships in his hometown of Oberhof. Instead, he will be an ambassador for that event as he stays connected with the sport.

In China, Ludwig delivered on gold-medal predictions with the fastest run in three of the four heats, winning by 16 hundredths over Austrian Wolfgang Kindl after nearly four minutes of total racing.

It was the culmination of years of challenges — missing the three-man Olympic team by one spot in 2010 and 2014 before earning bronze in 2018, plus finishing fourth at the world championships on five occasions.

Ludwig also won gold with Germany in the Olympic team relay in 2018 and 2022.

Germany’s other gold-medal singles sliders, 34-year-old Natalie Geisenberger and 32-year-old Felix Loch, are expected to continue competing.

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