Hamlin, West, Mortensen-Terdiman win USA Luge seeding races

WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Erin Hamlin, Tucker West and the doubles team of Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman got their Olympic seasons off to winning starts.

They all prevailed in USA Luge’s first seeding race of the season on Friday, winning on the 2010 Olympic track. Hamlin had the fastest time in both women’s runs, West won again at a place where he grabbed a World Cup gold last season and Mortensen and Terdiman were easy doubles victors.

Hamlin, a two-time world champion and the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist, has already clinched a spot on USA Luge’s World Cup team. But she said waking up to fresh snow in western Canada on Friday left her energized, and that showed in the results, and she had the fastest time in each heat.

Her combined two-run time was 1 minute, 18.283 seconds. Emily Sweeney finished in 1:18.408 and Summer Britcher was third in 1:18.420.

“It’s so fun to race,” Hamlin said. “We have days and days of double sessions and training. To be able to get all dressed up in race gear, and go out and have just a little bit of race feel is refreshing after a lot of weeks of training.”

The seeding races — ones follow later this month in Calgary, Alberta and then on USA Luge’s home track in Lake Placid, New York — will help decide who represents the U.S. on the World Cup circuit when the season begins in November. Making the World Cup team is a prerequisite for making the Olympic team in luge.

West’s time of 1:41.086 topped veteran Olympian Chris Mazdzer’s 1:41.480 and John Fennell’s 1:41.882.

“Whistler holds a special place in my heart. … I do really like this track,” said West, who is bidding for his second Olympic team. “I think it really meshes with my sliding style. It favors people with a faster start due to the flatness up top, and down low you can really let the sled run and do its thing — which is what I love to do.”

Mortensen and Terdiman won easily over Jacob Hyrns and Anthony Espinoza, who were second and ahead of Justin Krewson and Andrew Sherk.

“It’s really nice to get back in the routine of racing,” Mortensen said.

USA Luge will unveil its Olympic team in Lake Placid on Dec. 16, after the fifth World Cup race of the season.

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