USA Luge won the bronze medal in the team relay at luge’s world championships on Sunday, catching a huge break when the host Russians were disqualified from the final event of the competition in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Summer Britcher, Tucker West and the doubles team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman were sitting in third place with one team left to slide. That would be Russia, which had Ekaterina Katnikova, Roman Repilov and the doubles team of Aleksandr Denisev, and Vladislav Antonov — all of whom had won world championships earlier in the weekend — entered in the relay.
Katnikova was first down the 2014 Olympic track, and before Repilov could begin she needed to smack a touchpad suspended from the top of the chute as she crossed the finish line. Katinkova reached up a split-second too late, missed the pad entirely and the Russians were disqualified on the spot.
“We didn’t have the highest hopes to be beating Russia but anything can happen with the relay,” Britcher said. “I can’t even describe what a moment that was and how incredible it was to share it with my three amazing teammates. … Just absolutely incredible.”
It became the 18th world championships medal in USA Luge history. It was the second world championships medal for West and Terdiman, who were part of USA Luge’s silver in the team relay at worlds in Innsbruck in 2017. Britcher and Mazdzer won a world championships medal for the first time.
“I felt good in the moment, for sure,” Mazdzer said.
Germany won the team relay title, with Latvia second and the Americans third.
“I knew our team put down three solid, great runs,” West said. “At the same time, I knew that a lot of the other teams were very strong this week. So it was very nerve-wracking watching each team come down.”
Repilov won the men’s world title earlier Sunday, prevailing after Olympic champion David Gleirscher of Austria — the leader after the first of the two heats — lost control of his sled in the second run and couldn’t finish.
Austria took silver and bronze in the men’s race, with Jonas Mueller second and Wolfgang Kindl third. For the Americans, West was 14th in the men’s race, with Jonny Gustafson 17th and Mazdzer taking 19th.
Russia won five gold medals over the course of the weekend and eight medals overall. Germany had two golds and five medals, Austria finished with three medals, Latvia and Italy won two apiece and the U.S. won one.