For Park City resident Anthony Espinoza, there's no place like home.
The 19-year-old luger got to slide on his home ice Tuesday and Wednesday at the World Junior Luge Championships at Utah Olympic Park. And Espinoza's comfort with his home track led to a solid performance in the two-day event. Espinoza and his partner, Ty Andersen, took home a bronze medal in the doubles competition with a total time of one minute, 28.742 seconds in their two runs.
"It means everything to be home," Espinoza said. "I've got my family and friends out here supporting me. So to be out here on my home track and home city where I'm comfortable feels incredible."
The duo finished third out of 14 doubles teams, .027 seconds behind race winners Tim Brendel and Florian Funk from Germany. Another German team, Julius Loffler and Florian Kuechler, won silver with a time of 1:28.716, .001 seconds behind Brendel and Funk.
But Espinoza and Andersen, who is from Alpine, Utah, weren't done yet.
About an hour after stepping off the podium at the doubles awards ceremony, the duo was back on the ice, anchoring the team relay event, which involves four members of each country's squad.
First, a female slider takes to the ice, hitting a pad at the end of the run which opens the gates for the second slider, a male. When the male gets to the bottom of the track, he hits the pad again, opening the gates for the country's doubles team. The three times are added up, and the lowest three-run total takes gold.
Andersen and Espinoza posted the best time of all the doubles teams in the 10-team relay event to lead the United States to another bronze medal. Emily Sweeney, who won the women's singles event on Tuesday, and Tucker West rounded out Team USA. The four sliders finished with a total time of 2:21.136.
Team Italy won the relay event in 2:20.829, while the German team finished in second place with a total time of 2:20.920 and.
"It was a fantastic day," Espinoza said. "The weather was perfect out here. I wish we could have done better on times, but the runs were clean, so that's all you can ask for."
Now, he and his teammates will head to Calgary to resume their pursuit of the Junior World Cup. The races will take place on the 1988 Olympic track on Jan. 24 and 25.
Espinoza said he believes the solid results at the junior world championships will help motivate Team USA the rest of the season.
"This really boosted our confidence," he said. "We're heading into next week hoping we can keep the same position, if not better."