Hamlin finishes seventh in Germany luge race
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OBERHOF, GERMANY - Remsen-native Erin Hamlin placed seventh Saturday in the women's singles luge finals in Germany. Her Team U.S.A. teammate Julia Clukey finished sixth. "Julia and Erin are doing a nice job," said U.S. Sport Program Director and two-time Olympic medalist Mark Grimmette. "Julia’s start is strong. We’ve seen that all season long. But she’s improving her feel going down the track. She had the best exit of curve 13 of everyone. "Erin has a good, soft feel on the sled and is working hard to increase speed at the top." Meanwhile, Germany used track record ice to harvest places 1-4 in the singles event and 1-2 in doubles. They scooped up five of six medals on the day. Warmer conditions earlier in the week segued into colder weather Saturday, and as Grimmette stated, created "great conditions for both races." Natalie Geisenberger lowered the track record in the opening leg en route to her fourth victory of the season. She registered runs of 41.764 and 41.833 seconds for a one minute, 23.597 second total. The World Cup leader, with 570 points, has four gold medals and two silver medals in six events. Clukey, a 2010 Olympian, was sixth fastest in each heat and totaled 1:24.489. She used her reliable quick starts to secure the third such result of the season. The Augusta, Maine resident, however, felt she left some time on the course. "I am definitely finding a groove in my sliding, though I’m not as happy as I was last week," said Clukey. "I struggled in the middle of the track in both runs. But I’m most happy with my position on the sled and ability to make adjustments. I’m not losing massive amounts of time like sometimes happened before." As for Grimmette’s remark about her tactics in curve 13, "Turn 13 is a key point," continued Clukey. "But it’s the (curve) 11-12 combination that builds to 13. Lots of people scrub time there." Hamlin, who has represented the U.S. at two Winter Olympics with a World Championship gold medal in between, has been sixth once and now seventh twice on the year. The Remsen, N.Y. racer gained time from start to finish. On Oberhof’s shorter track, however, the finish light brings comeback attempts to a premature end. Tatyana Huefner, who rested her ailing back for several weeks and missed her national championships and last week’s World Cup stop in Koenigssee, Germany, took the silver medal in 1:23.784. She is third overall with 345 points. Teammate Anke Wischnewski is ahead of her. Wischnewski was third in Saturday’s race in 1:23.896 and second on the season with 440 points. Dayana Eitberger, the 2011 Junior World Champion, also from Germany, made her World Cup debut in fourth place. Canadian Alex Gough was fifth. Hamlin remains the top-ranked American in the overall World Cup standings. She is seventh with 246 points. Clukey is eighth with 225. Kate Hansen, of La Canada, Calif., the 2008 Junior World Champion, placed 23rd on the day. She stands 24th in the overall rankings with 111 points. U.S. doubles teams finished 17th and 19th on a day that saw the five race winning streak of Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt come to an end. Matt Mortensen, of Huntington Station, N.Y. and 2006 Olympian Preston Griffall, of Salt Lake City, Utah, clocked a combined time of 1:24.998, putting them ahead of first-year World Cup racers Jake Hyrns, of Muskegon, Mich. and Andrew Sherk, of Fort Washington, Pa. The latter team, still learning the nuances of World Cup racing after successful junior careers, encountered difficulties on both runs and were timed in 2:08.184. It was their first time racing from Oberhof’s World Cup doubles start. Mortensen and Griffall are in 11th place on the campaign with 181 World Cup points, while Hyrns and Sherk stand 13th with 155. Despite setting start and track records as well as holding the first run lead, Wendl and Arlt could not detain teammates Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken who finally toppled the World Cup overall leaders by a scant 0.02 of a second. The Oberhof gold medalists had finished second in three of the first five events. They prevented their compatriots from setting a World Cup record six consecutive victories. German doubles sliders Stefan Krause and Jan Behrendt also captured five straight victories in the 1995-1996 season. The winner’s runs of 41.611 and 41.629 gave them a combined 1:23.240. Wendl and Artl recorded 1:23.262. They have 585 World Cup points on the season. Eggert and Benecken have 467, with Peter Penz and Georg Fischler, of Austria, in third place with 440. The Austrians collected their third bronze medal Saturday in 1:23.464. Two-time Olympic champions and three-time World Champions Andreas and Wolfgang Linger, also of Austria, continue to struggle by their standards. The brother tandem finished fifth Saturday. They are fourth overall and have just one podium result in 2012-2013. The Oberhof race program concludes Sunday with men’s singles beginning at 3 AM Eastern Time, followed by the European Championship-only team relay. The European event is being held concurrently with the World Cup. The team relay will include a U.S. entry, although no World Cup points will be awarded to any of the entrants in the field.