November 02, 2014

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) Even as Chris Mazdzer held a big lead at the midpoint of the USA Luge national championships, he was concerned about Tucker West's comeback potential.

He was right. He just wasn't beaten.

Mazdzer held on Sunday to win the men's national title for the sixth time, finding a way to edge West by 0.076 seconds over the four-run competition.

''I know how fast he can go,'' said Mazdzer, a native of Saranac Lake, New York. ''And I know if he has two really good runs and I mess up just a little bit, the margin for error is there.''

Mazdzer had a big lead after the first heat Saturday, gave a bit of it back in the second run that day and watched West put down the fastest time in both of Sunday's trips down the icy chute at Mount Van Hoevenberg.

But in the end, his time of 3:27.076 was enough. West was timed in 3:27.152 and Aidan Kelly - like Mazdzer and West, a member of the 2014 U.S. Olympic team - was third in a distant 3:29.444.

''Looking back over the past 10 years and having six national championships, it really speaks to how well I've been able to adapt to this track,'' Mazdzer said.

In the women's event, Olympic bronze medalist Erin Hamlin of Remsen, New York, finished off a dominating performance to take the women's crown with ease. She had the fastest time in all four runs of the competition, finishing in 2 minutes, 57.972 seconds and beating fellow Olympian Summer Britcher by 1.134 seconds.

Emily Sweeney finished third, another 0.312 seconds back.

''It's nice to now focus on the upcoming World Cup,'' Hamlin said. ''We've been training for a while now, so getting into the racing mode again was nice. Now I can kind of look forward and be ready to race internationally.''

USA Luge plans to reveal the World Cup team for the fall portion of the schedule on Monday. Hamlin, Mazdzer and Julia Clukey are assured spots on that roster based on their performances last season.

In doubles, Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman won their first national title as teammates, topping Jacob Herns and Andrew Sherk by 1.699 seconds over their two-run competition.

''Our last run wasn't too great,'' Mortensen said. ''But it gives us something to work on.''

The World Cup season starts Nov. 29 in Igls, Austria, before returning to Lake Placid on Dec. 5.

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