The luge doubles team of Ty Andersen and Pat Edmunds, arguably the tallest unit in luge history, won a Youth Olympic Games (YOG) bronze medal Monday at the site of the 1964 and 1976 Olympic events in Igls, Austria, just outside Innsbruck.
The 6-foot-7 Andersen and Edmunds, at 6-1, were put together this year with the purpose of scoring a YOG medal. The plan came to fruition when the 17 year olds from Utah posted the third- and fourth-fastest heats to land on the podium.
"It's great to know that we've won the medal," said Edmunds, the back driver. "[We are] happy. We're relaxed. Glad we came here and got something. It was a great race, too. We had great competitors. Even though we knew them, we weren't expecting those kinds of times out of them. They were racing as best they can, so we raced the best we can. It was a good race."
USA Luge racers Pat Edmunds (left) and Ty Andersen pose after sliding to a bronze medal Monday in the doubles luge event at the Youth Olympic Games in Igls, Austria.
(Photo — Brett West/West World Media)
Summer Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pa., was fifth in the women's singles race, missing the medal stand by 0.15 seconds over the two heats. Raychel Germaine, of Roswell, Ga., finished 14th.
Italians Florian Gruber and Simon Kainzwaldner won the gold medal with runs of 42.590 and 42.604 seconds for a total of 1 minute, 25.194 seconds. Germany's Tim Brendl and Florian Funk posted the silver medal time of 1:25.358. Andersen and Edmunds had the aggregate time of 1:25.766 down the course located on Patscherkofel Mountain.
"It was pretty good. We had a little bit of a rough start. It wasn't as good as the rest of our starts, but it didn't cause us any problems," said front driver Andersen. "I don't think it gave us too much of a hindrance in our time, so I'm satisfied with it. The second run was really good.
"We put down two good runs. The start was a little off in the second run, but we were able to pick up time during the run. I'm just glad I could represent America and do so well."
In his excitement after crossing the finish line and knowing they had pocketed a medal, Andersen nearly forgot to unstrap himself before jumping up in celebration.
The image of that notwithstanding, the achievement was not easy to come by despite the 0.18 of a second between them and fourth place.
"I mostly focused on making sure he (Anderson) is nice and relaxed going down the track," Edmunds said. "He got a little bit tense coming out of [corner] eight and going into [corner] nine. I could feel that. His head came up. He started looking. But after he got out of nine, I just yelled at him. He lays back. He's good at it. And when we got to the labyrinth, he was nice and relaxed. I was happy with that."
Britcher, the winner of the 2010-11 youth division of the Junior World Cup, battled from start to finish. The 16-year-old had two of the best get-away times in the field. She settled into fifth place at the intermission, before putting down the third best final heat. However, it was not enough to advance.
"The second run was alright," she said. "I had a little problem out of (curve) five. I tapped the wall on the right side and started skidding. Nothing major.
"So far the experience here has been really great. The village is great. It's probably the coolest thing I've ever done."
Miriam-Stefanie Kastlunger won the YOG gold medal on her home track. Her times of 40.107 and 40.090 totaled 1:20.197. Saskia Langer, of Germany, was the silver medalist in 1:20.414. Latvia's Ulla Zirne grabbed the bronze in 1:20.479.
Germaine's time was 1:22.180.
In addition to the Olympic luge and bobsled events, the site, about 10 miles from Innsbruck, was the venue of one of most exciting moments in Olympic history when Austrian Franz Klammer raced to a harrowing, on-the-edge downhill gold medal in 1976.
It will host the final YOG luge event today when the schedule concludes with the team relay beginning at 8 a.m. EST. The American squad will consist of singles racers Britcher and Tucker West, of Ridgefield, Conn., as well as Andersen and Edmunds.