USA Luge aims for consistency in season opener at Utah Olympic Park
Robert Fegg, head coach of USA Luge’s junior team, said the club’s first goal this season is to achieve consistency.
It made its first strides toward that benchmark at the first Junior World Cup races of the season at the Utah Olympic Park on Dec. 5 through 8.
“We are right in the hunt,” Fegg said of the teams progress to catch the leaders.
It was Fegg’s first time coaching the team through a competition, and he said several athletes, including Parkite Ashley Farquharson, had already narrowed last season’s gap between themselves and the leaders – usually Germany in the 16 races across eight disciplines.
“Going into this weekend, we had no idea where we would stand,” Fegg said on Monday. “I did see a big improvement, and I was certain they were going to be way further up than their start last season, but we had no idea where we would end up.”
Fegg said Farquharson cut close to a second off her average times from last season.
She finished in seventh in both of her races on Dec. 6 and 8, finishing with a time of 1:29.58 in the first race, .36 seconds behind the leader, Anna Berrieter of Germany.
Farquharson finished the second day with a time of 1:29.73, .39 seconds back from Berreiter.
Matthew Granier, another Parkite, also had a consistent week. He finished fifth in both Male Youth A races, with a finish of 1:29.71 on Dec. 5 and 1:30.32 on Dec. 7. Ian Smith led the USA in that division, taking third in the first race (1:29.22) and fourth in the second (1:29.75).
In the women’s Youth A competition, Sophia Gordon led the U.S. on Dec. 5 with seventh place finish overall with a time of 1:25.830 behind the leader, Trinity Ellis of Canada (1:24.677).
Parkites Emma Erickson and Delaney Duncan took eighth (1:25.860) and ninth (1:25.87).
Ellis took first for Canada again on Dec. 8 with a time of 1:25.05. Erickson was USA’s closest competitor in sixth with a time of 1:26.02. Duncan was disqualified.
“First, we have to make sure we can slide down twice consistent, not hoping for the super run, but having two good runs,” Fegg said. “That’s where we’re at, that’s what we do now. … Accidents and mistakes still happen, but we are able to slide down twice in a row no problem, having consistent time and if we have mistakes we keep them little and don’t let them explode to big mistakes.”
Fegg said Zach DiGregorio was the biggest surprise of the tournament. The 17-year-old from Medway, Massachusetts, raced up with Junior Men though he still qualifies in the Youth A category.
“He turned out to be our best man so far this season,” Fegg said. “I think he developed the most in this first part of the year with the amount of runs that we’ve done.”
Though DiGregorio was disqualified in his first Junior World Cup race, he came back to take sixth in the second one with a time of 1:42.56 – .56 seconds back from race leader Elias Bollmann of Germany.
Fegg said so far the team has gotten off better than he had hoped as it moves into the second round of races of the season in Calgary, Alberta, set to begin on Dec. 14.
“No miracles can happen, that was clear from the beginning and that was one of the phrases I use pretty much daily,” Fegg said. “But we are definitely heading the right direction and definitely faster than I thought.”
For a complete list of results from the competition at the Utah Olympic Park, go to utaholympiclegacy.org/event/fil-junior-luge-world-cup/.
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It’s going to be at least another month before Summit County’s high school athletes have any chance of getting onto the field again.