World Cup luge season wraps up at St. Moritz

ST. MORITZ, Switzerland –The 2020-21 World Cup racing season came to a conclusion over the weekend at the longest luge track in the world.

The season was originally slated to end on the new Beijing track, the site of next year’s 2022 Winter Olympics, but sliding there was delayed until next fall, resulting in the return of World Cup luge action in St. Moritz since 2013.

The competition actually ended early than expected, as a consistent dumping of snow forced the cancellation of the season’s final event, the team relay on Sunday, Feb. 7.

The women’s singles event, however, was officially completed earlier in the day, with 20-year-old U23 European Champion Elina leva Vitola of Latvia topped a field of 26 sleds while sliding to victory in just her fourth World Cup start.

Germany’s Julia Taubitz placed second and Natalie Maag of Switzerland claimed the bronze medal in the two-run race.

Natalie Geisenberger, who stepped away from the sport a season ago to start a family, finished 13th, which was good enough for the German to nail down her eighth overall World Cup title.

For the United States, Summer Britcher finished 15th, Lake Placid’s Emily Sweeney placed 18th, and Park City, Utah racers Ashley Farquharson and Brittney Arndt slid to respective 24th- and 26th-place finishes.

Saturday’s racing featured men’s singles and doubles.

In doubles race that opened Saturday’s competition, the American team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman finished in ninth place, .897 in back of the winning team.

The young Latvian duo of Martins Bots, 21, and Roberts Plume, 20, slid to their first World Cup doubles victory and their second podium of their rookie season. Latvia also grabbed the silver with brothers Andris and Juris Sics finishing just .06 off the winning time.

Italy’s Ludwig Rieder and Patrick Rastner were third, 0.2 from the winners.

Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koeller of Austria, who clinched the overall World Cup season doubles title two weeks ago, were back in seventh place. Their overall victory marked the end of a nine-year run of German sliders claiming the World Cup crystal as season champions.

In men’s singles, Americans claimed 14th, 17th and 21st place. Mazdzer led the U.S. in 14th. Tucker West, who set a start record in Friday’s Nations Cup qualifying, took 14th and Massena’s Jonny Gustafson, the Nations Cup silver medal winner, was 21st.

Austria’s Nico Gleirscher, the younger brother of 2018 Olympic champion David Gleirscher won the singles contest to capture his first career World Cup gold medal. Germans Max Langenhan and Felix Loch slid to respective silver and bronze medals.

Loch was the World Cup season’s men’s singles overall champion, claiming that honor for the seventh time.