Huefner gets record-tying 37th World Cup luge victory
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) Tatjana Huefner finally figured out Mount Van Hoevenberg and got a record-setting win in the process.
The German star tied the career record for World Cup women's luge wins on Saturday, holding off the Canadian duo of Kimberley McRae and Alex Gough to get her 37th victory on the circuit - tying Sylke Otto of Germany for the all-time lead.
Huefner's two-run time was 1 minute, 28.638 seconds, good enough to put her into the World Cup season points lead. Canadians took the second and third spots, with McRae taking silver in 1:28.706 and Gough the bronze in 1:28.703.
Huefner has now won a World Cup on 13 different tracks, after never before finishing first on Lake Placid's ice. But she was the best Saturday, building up enough of a lead in her first run that even some minor trouble in her second trip down the track wasn't enough to keep her from the victory.
''Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd achieve this record victory in Lake Placid, of all places,'' Huefner said. ''It's unreal.''
She threw both fists in the air when she crossed the finish line, then hugged a stream of coaches and teammates who came over to offer their congratulations. Lake Placid has never been her favorite track, evidenced by the 2007-08 season when Huefner won every World Cup race except the one at Mount Van Hoevenberg.
Later Saturday in the team relay, Canada won a surprising gold, with Russia second and the Americans third. The relay win, combined with two medals in the women's race, gave Canada one of its best days in World Cup history.
''This is something that our program has needed,'' said Canadian men's luge veteran Sam Edney.
For as good as things were for Huefner and the Canadians, it was a puzzler for the U.S.
Americans took gold, silver and bronze in the women's World Cup race in Lake Placid last year - but got shut out in that event Saturday after some stumbles.
Summer Britcher was second after one run of the women's race, but she managed only a fourth-place finish to lead the USA Luge entrants in 1:28.758. That was one spot ahead of reigning Olympic and world champion Natalie Geisenberger of Germany, who remained third on the all-time World Cup win list with 34.
Britcher has now been fourth or better in six of her last 13 World Cup starts, but her disappointment was obvious.
''I think I need a little bit of perspective before I can really approach that,'' Britcher said.
Emily Sweeney, who has been slowed at the start of her runs by a wrist injury, was sixth for the U.S., and fellow American Erin Hamlin, who won a world championship at Lake Placid in 2009 and a World Cup there last season, skidded a bit midway through her second run and finished seventh.
''It's definitely disappointing,'' said Hamlin, who had a huge cheering contingent from her hometown of Remsen, New York, trackside. ''I didn't have great training all week, so I can't really expect for a ton more today even though it is my home track. I had mistakes in both runs. It's so competitive now in our field so you have to be perfect.''
Also for the U.S., Raychel Germaine was 10th in the women's event.
The Americans needed some help in the relay to get to the medal stand and got it from the Germans, when Olympic champion Felix Loch had trouble in his portion of the relay. That sent the heavily favored Germans tumbling to seventh, and got the U.S. team of Britcher, Tucker West, Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman to the podium as bronze relay winners.
West won the men's race Friday for USA Luge, while Mortensen and Terdiman took silver in the doubles race.