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Heading into an Olympic year, every sport begins to get more intense, with more weight placed on each event.

And with less than 365 days remaining until the world converges on Pyeongchang, South Korea, the world of luge is heating up, and the United States is in the center of the fire.

The team of Erin Hamlin, Chris Mazdzer, Jayson Terdiman, Matt Mortensen, Tucker West, and Summer Britcher is taking the luging circuit by storm, competing at levels never seen before in U.S. history.

Hamlin (Remsen, NY) leads the group, especially after taking home a silver medal at worlds last month. Britcher finished fourth overall, while also taking home the U23 gold. The two women’s performances show that not only is America prepared to perform in 2018, but even in the years ahead. Hamlin is currently ranked fourth in the world, while Britcher is nipping at her heels in fifth, making both early medal contenders in the next Olympics.

While West (Danbury, CT) and Mazdzer didn’t fare as well at the world championships, there is still plenty of reason for optimism in the 21-year old slider. West has been tearing it up in World Cup races throughout the season, including taking home gold in several races. Mazdzer has performed well this year also, earning himself a third place on the standings, while West rests in seventh. No American man has ever medaled in a singles event at the Olympics in luge, putting even more pressure on Mazdzer and West.

The duo of Jayson Terdiman (East Stroudsburg, PA) and Matt Mortensen (Huntington Station, NY) have been impressive as well, earning two medals on their own this season, while also earning many more in the team relay. Their performances have earned them the fifth ranking in the world, putting them well within reasonable medal contention. Americans haven’t medaled in doubles luge since 2002.  

With worlds and a South Korea test event wrapped up, the team is largely looking forward towards 2018, with the Olympics on their mind. Each member of the squad remarked on the difficulty of the track, with “the wall will come out to bite you, instead of you coming to bite the wall,” Britcher said about a specific turn.

“The track is very challenging, but the Americans have been doing very well,” Mortensen said. The entire team also mentioned several times about how many different nations came to watch each other to see how they would approach the new track.

There will definitely be a lot more eyes watching the United States team, which could rival the performance of perennial king, Germany in the coming year.

In a Team USA stocked with storylines and talent, it’s the luge team that could have more depth and a bigger medal haul than anyone else. Looking ahead towards Pyeongchang, it looks like that could be the case.  

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Dan is a Staff Writer here at with a focus on Team USA and the Rio Olympics
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