Forgan/Kirkby earn a bronze in groundbreaking event

In a long-needed step towards gender equity, the sport of luge hosted the Women’s Doubles World Championship for the first time, with the United States duo of Chevonne Forgan and Sophia Kirkby taking bronze on Sunday, Jan. 30 in Winterberg, Germany.

“It was super exciting to be on the podium at the first-ever Women’s Doubles World Championships today,” said Chelmsford, Massachusetts native and front driver Forgan. “The weather today was actually the best it’s been all week. We had some rain, some snow, but managed to get some really good fast ice for today.”

“It was definitely great to be a part of this experience with other nations,” added back driver Kirkby of Ray Brook. “Overall, they (the runs) weren’t that bad. We did have some difficulties in part of the track, but we pulled some runs that made us into third place, so, can’t complain too much.”

Germans Jessica Degenhardt and Cheyenne Rosenthal took gold, with teammates Luisa Romanenko and Pauline Patz taking silver from the field of 14 sleds. The United States duo of Maya Chan of Chicago, Illinois and Reannyn Weiler of Whitesboro were fourth, a mere .099 from the bronze medal. After the first of two heats, Chan/Weiler sat in third place but the two American sleds swapped places after the second run.

Doubles is currently contested by men only at the Olympic Games and Sunday’s event marks a major step forward in the International Luge Federation’s bid to add the discipline to the Olympic schedule for the Games in 2026.

Junior World Championships

The junior women’s doubles team of Chan and Weiler placed fifth at the Junior Luge World Championships, capping off a season of strong and consistent performances on Saturday, Jan. 29.

The duo were sitting in fourth place after the first heat but dropped back a spot after encountering issues during their second run. Chan and Weiler competed in the first-ever women’s doubles World Championship on Sunday. Chan and Weiler have been competing in both senior-level and junior-level events. They have been podium regulars in both divisions. The tandem also competed in the 2020 Youth Olympic Games, finishing fourth.

In the Junior men’s doubles race, Marcus Mueller of Brookfield, Wisconsin and Ansel Haugsjaa of Framingham, Massachusetts placed sixth, while Aidan Mueller of West Islip and Frank Ike of Lititz, Pennsylvania were 14th. The Junior World Championships marked the first time the four athletes raced up a category as Juniors this season. The 2021-22 Youth A Men’s Doubles World Cup title was won by Mueller/Haugsjaa, with Mueller/Ike ranked fourth.

The Junior women’s competition saw Elena Morrison of Muskegon, Michigan place 16th. Sophia Gordon of Sussex, Wisconsin placed 20th, competing up from the Youth A division. Emma Erickson of Park City, Utah was 26th.

In the team competition, the United States squad, featuring Morrison, Matt Greiner of Park City, and the duo of Mueller/Haugsjaa, finished in sixth place.

Greiner earns bronze

On an unusually clear and cold day in the typically wet Hochsauerland region, Greiner of the United States took advantage of the conditions and grabbed a bronze medal at the 2022 Junior World Luge Championships on Friday, Jan. 28.

Greiner became the first American to stand on the Junior World Championship podium since Tucker West of Ridgefield, Connecticut took silver in the 2015 race held in Lillehammer, Norway.

“I’m super proud of myself,” Greiner said. “I thought I raced really well today. This Winterberg track is one that kind of favors my style of sliding. And this is a goal that I set from the very beginning of the season. At the end of the day, I’m always proud to see the American flag raised.”

The track in Winterberg sees slower than normal in the top section, but the lower section drops away and sleds accelerate significantly, particularly today with colder, harder and faster ice. The 18-year-old is no stranger to high speeds, having learned to slide in Park City, where sleds touch 90 MPH.

“Yeah, it’s really fast,” Greiner said. “I think I went 131 KPH which is like 82 MPH. It’s not something I’m new to, you know. It’s close to the speed in Park City.”

In the four Junior World Cup races he entered this season, Greiner made two trips to the podium. He missed three events due to a leg injury prior to the New Year.

Greiner’s time of 1 minute, 53.213 seconds was 0.477 seconds off Russian gold medalist Matvei Prestoronin and 0.008 away from silver medalist Florian Muller of Germany.

Ironically, fourth place went to Pavel Repilov of Russia, an Olympic team candidate this season. He is the younger brother of Roman Repilov, who won the 2015 Junior World Championship event in which West took silver.

Marcus Mueller ranked second in the 2021-22 Youth A men’s overall World Cup, raced up a category against older, more seasoned competitors. He finished 12th with a time of 1:54.089. His teammate Hunter Harris of East Fairfield, Vermont, who featured in the top 10 this season in Junior World Cup events, was 16th with a time of 1:55.293. Aidan Mueller, another podium regular in Youth A men’s competitions this season, was 21st with a two-run combined time of 1:55.913.

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