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Lake Placid's golden boy

Tucker West captures second gold at Van Ho track

December 2, 2016
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Sports Writer (jlevine@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Chants of "U-S-A, U-S-A" filled the air as fat snowflakes began to fall in earnest Friday afternoon. These were not generic calls for patriotism, but a genuine show of affection as American luger Tucker West slid across the finish line to win the World Cup men's singles gold medal by just 0.006 seconds.

Watching on the monitors, the crowd of people around the finish line at Mount Van Hoevenberg made audible gasps, countered by cries of joy, as West gained and lost the lead multiple times during his second run in the race.

But when all was said and done, West was given a bouquet of flowers, which he quickly handed off to his mom at the end of the first day of luge action.

Article Photos

Tucker West, center, celebrates his gold medal victory in the World Cup luge race Friday afternoon at Mount Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid. Russian slider Semen Pavlichenko, left, placed second just 0.006 seconds behind West. Bronze medal winner Wolfgang Kindl of Austria is at right.
(News photo — Justin A. Levine)

"That was great racing," West said. "I wish I could have pulled ahead a little bit more, but hey, a win's a win."

West was sitting in the first spot after a stellar first run which put him in the lead over Russian slider Semen Pavlichenko by 0.008 seconds. Pavlichenko grabbed the number one spot on his second run, but with West coming down the track last in the second run, it was all up to the American to win or lose.

West, who hails from Ridgefield, Connecticut, was in familiar territory, as he won the gold medal and set a course record here in 2014. Fellow American and Saranac Lake native Chris Mazdzer was bumped off the podium, missing the bronze by less than a tenth of a second.

"This is home track, so I'm always coming in with a little more confidence than any other track here," West said after the race. "I just really felt at home here. It's always nerve wracking to race in front of your friends and family but I'm glad that I was able to perform and I just couldn't ask for anything more."

West was disqualified in last week's opening race of the World Cup series in Winterberg, Germany, due to being overweight. But he swore that it was a one-time mistake.

"It was disappointing. Winterberg is a good track for me. It really meshes with my sliding style so I always know that's one of the places I can perform and get a good result on," he said. "So to kind of throw that away to something stupid like forgetting a rule is disappointing.

"But luckily it's a learning experience and it'll never happen again."

West was in the second slot when he was disqualified last week, and said that his performances so far this season have given him a lot of confidence.

He did note that he struggled with starts on the Lake Placid track, but more than made up for it during the rest of his runs.

"The starts for me were a little rough today," he said. "Curve one is challenging for me, so I wasn't thrilled with them today, but luckily my runs were right where I wanted to be and I was able to make up the time."

Russian luger Roman Repilov finished fifth and set a track start record of 6.359 seconds in the process, while four Germans and another Russian rounded out the top 10. German slider Felix Loch, who won the season's first race last week, finished sixth in Lake Placid Friday.

American Tyler Cloy Morris placed 12th with a time of 1:43.897, while Jonathan Eric Gustafson ended the day in 19th with a combined two-run time of 1:44.133. John Fennell rounded out the American contingent, coming in 27th out of 32 in 1:44.977.

The sliding action continues this morning, with the women luging at 9:30 a.m., followed by the team relay.

 
 

 

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