Youth luge champions crowned
After winning the first seeding race and holding the halfway lead 24 hours earlier, Brittney Arndt’s journey on Sunday to her first Norton Youth A National Luge Championship at Mount Van Hoevenberg was one she did not entirely see coming.
After holding a comfortable overnight lead, the unexpected escapades were about to begin.
"The first run was really rough," reflected Arndt. "I was actually in third place. My face shield fogged, I hit a couple of walls down the track and luckily I was able to make up that time in the second run and finish in first."
The Park City youngster’s first national youth crown came with some trepidation.
"I was kind of nervous about it (the second run)," he said. "The coaches told me I could make up this time. I could do it. I just tried my best."
Arndt won the second seeding event by posting the fastest second heat. The total of the four runs over the two days at the Olympic Sports Complex gave her the initial domestic championship of her young career.
Her four heats combined for 3 minutes, 0.649 seconds. Youth Olympic Games competitor Ashley Farquharson, also of Park City, tried to take advantage of Arndt’s duress, but after claiming the fastest heat time in Sunday’s opening run, she settled for the national silver medal in 3:03.049, and third place in the second seeding event.
Sophie Kirkby, of Ray Brook, New York, was the national bronze medalist in 3:03.801.
Mackenzie Rice, of Mariposa, California, was working her way into contention in the second leg on Saturday, but did not complete the run and was eliminated from the national championship chase. However, she came back on the second day and finished second to Arndt in the seeding competition.
Garrett Gorsch also had an interesting journey to the Norton title in Youth A Men. After a gold medal in Saturday’s first seeding race gave him a substantial midway lead for the nationals, the warmer weather and humidity seemed to magnify some errors.
"It was not a good race today," said Gorsch, of Park City, who celebrated his birthday on Sunday. "I’m glad I had a really big lead from yesterday’s race. I had two not-so-great runs. The ice was slower so I couldn’t get away with the small mistakes I made."
Gorsch was fifth in the final seeding race, but overall, his four attempts down the turning course totaled 3:01.650, just 0.282 seconds in front of Justin Taylor. The Newark, Delaware, luge racer, who also competed in the Youth Olympic Games, was timed in 3:01.932 and grabbed the silver medal.
The bronze went to Sean Hollander, of Lake Placid, the second seeding race winner. His strong Sunday brought him to the national podium in 3:02.188.
In a tight Sunday seeding race, Zach DiGregorio, of Medway, Massachusetts, was third, finishing less than 0.25 seconds from Hollander.
In Youth B Men, Gavin Shamis converted his first day lead into a national championship, despite a second trip on Sunday that nearly cost him. His margin over Noah Boggess, of Montague, Michigan, was merely 0.12 seconds. Shamis posted four heats totaling 3:05.212, with Boggess clocking 3:05.332.
Elana Morrison, of Twin Lake, Michigan, dominated Youth B Women with the four quickest heats of the weekend, giving her two seeding victories and a national championship.
Over 50 youth from across the country met in Lake Placid for this three-event weekend series. The results will be used to help determine the composition of next year’s teams, which will be announced May 1.
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