LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — The winter sports sliding venue that’s home ice for the U.S. luge, bobsled, and skeleton teams opens Thursday morning, and several USA Luge athletes will take their first official runs of the season.

Cold air has been trapped inside the chute at the mile-long track on Mount Van Hoevenberg outside Lake Placid, and the track is fast and smooth.

The team will be on ice each morning through the end of the month and can’t wait to get started. Those sliding first will be 2014 Olympians Matt Mortensen, Jayson Terdiman, Summer Britcher and Aidan Kelly.

“My body appreciated the offseason,” said Terdiman, of Berwick, Pennsylvania. “But now we’re excited to get back at it. Matt and I will try to get comfortable the first couple of days in Lake Placid. We did a lot of good work over the summer and are confident that we can pick up where we left off last year.”

Mortensen and Terdiman, in their first year as a doubles team, finished in seventh place in the 2014-15 World Cup standings and anchored three World Cup medals for the U.S. in the team relay.

Other team members have been training in Lillehammer, Norway, site of the 1994 Olympics. That group has been sliding since Friday and features Sochi bronze medalist Erin Hamlin, Chris Mazdzer, Tucker West and Julia Clukey, as well as 2013 junior world champion Emily Sweeney.

The lone U.S. doubles sled in Lillehammer is the team of Jake Hyrns and Anthony Espinoza, who are starting their first season together.

“We’ve had great conditions, even with some days of slower ice,” said Hamlin, of Remsen, New York. “It’s been a productive week of getting comfortable again, or in some of our cases, on some new stuff, just seeing how it feels before things get really rolling. So far, so good.”

West, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, who won the Lake Placid World Cup race last December among his three World Cup medals, said the sliders have had double sessions every day and averaged four to six runs a day.

“These extra runs are a huge advantage going into the season,” West said. “Now that we are already comfortable on the sled, we can really make the most out of every training run once we get back to Lake Placid for the opening of the track. Every run counts, and we took full advantage of that here.”

West and Mazdzer are expected to give USA Luge a consistent threat in singles during the upcoming World Cup season, which begins in late November at Igls, Austria.

“Right now, I am just working on becoming more fluid and getting used to the extra muscle that I put on this summer from pre-season training,” said Mazdzer, a two-time Olympian from Saranac Lake, New York who finished fifth in World Cup last season. “My starts are faster than they were this time last year, and so far everything in my body is holding up.”


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