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USA Luge opens on-ice training in Lake Placid

October 15, 2019

Sliding season has started for USA Luge.

Tuesday was the opening day of home-ice training for the luge team at the Mount Van Hoevenberg track in Lake Placid, New York. USA Luge had sliders get in some runs earlier this month at Lillehammer, Norway — but now, ice in the Adirondacks is ready.

Jonny Gustafson, who was 19th in the men’s World Cup points standings last season, held the distinction of taking the first official Lake Placid training run of the 2019-20 campaign.

“It’s so nice,” Gustafson said. “It’s incredible. We were going super-fast. It wasn’t terribly bumpy or anything. It was a really good first day.”

USA Skeleton and USA Bobsled are scheduled to begin training before long as well, weather permitting. For the luge team, Tuesday was largely the first step toward getting into a training routine before the World Cup season begins in November.

“I still have a lot of work to do,” USA Luge veteran Emily Sweeney said after her first Lake Placid runs of the season.

Sweeney — the reigning women’s world championship bronze medalist — is planning to go through the entire World Cup schedule this season, after skipping half of last season as part of a maintenance program following a frightening crash at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics that left her with fractures in her neck and back.

“It’s been a year and a half since the crash and I still feel it,” Sweeney said. “So, time is passing. But it’s crazy how your body holds onto things.”

Chris Mazdzer, the 2018 Olympic men’s luge silver medalist, said he was nervous for Day 1 in Lake Placid simply because the ice usually isn’t optimal for top speeds until deeper in the season.

“Do not let the fall leaves fool you,” Mazdzer said as he spoke trackside with the bright multicolored foliage of the Adirondacks on full display around him. “The track is awesome. ... It’s only going to get better from here.”

Luge opens its World Cup season at Innsbruck, Austria, on Nov. 23 and 24, then returns to Lake Placid for the second World Cup of the year on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

Bobsled and skeleton open their World Cup seasons at Park City, Utah, on Nov. 29 and 30, and then those circuits go to Lake Placid on Dec. 14 and 15.

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