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U.S. men miss the podium at Utah Olympic Park Luge World Cup

Taylor Morris of the United States slides during a men's World Cup Luge event, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016 in Whistler, British Columbia. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
Taylor Morris of the United States slides during a men's World Cup Luge event, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016 in Whistler, British Columbia. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
Jonathan Hayward, AP

PARK CITY — South Jordan native Taylor Morris’s grin after competing in the luge World Cup at Utah Olympic Park had nothing to do with podiums or medals.

It was, however, his second fastest time and his 11th place qualified him for World Championships this winter.

“It feels amazing,” he said after finishing the second of two runs on the track where he began his sliding career. “Feels a bit like redemption, for me at the very least. I feel good about being able to come home and perform in front of my family and friends.”

His runs weren’t fast enough to best Russia’s Roman Repilov, who won gold with a combined time of 1:32.254, or even his U.S. teammate Tucker West, who finished fourth. But the runs were fast enough to earn Morris a trip to the World Championships and convince him he and his sled are headed in the right direction.

“(The runs) were both really good,” he said. “Honestly, I couldn’t imagine much better, except maybe a faster start. I felt really solid on the sled, super comfortable, really happy with the way things went.”

West was in third after one run but fell to fourth after Italy’s Dominik Fischnaller (1:32.572) made up some time on his second run to jump over West (1:32.681) and grab bronze.

“Fourth place stings,” West said. “It always does. …I did all I could, and Dominik just had a better run, and I’m okay with that.” Fourth place his best finish at Utah Olympic Park.

“My best result here, prior to this, is 16th,” he said. “So overall, I’m excited with the finish, even though it’s not quite on the podium.” Last year’s World Cup winner in the men’s single competition was Chris Mazdzer, but the podium eluded him Friday night. He finished seventh (.789 behind Repilov).

“(It) wasn’t exactly what I hoped for,” Mazdzer said. “I definitely left room for improvement. That’s just how racing goes. Sometimes you crush it; sometimes you make a few mistakes. It’s a bummer doing it at home, but there’s a lot to learn from this first half (of the season), and we’re going to move forward.”

The doubles event was postponed and then determined on a single run because of snow. Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman were the top U.S. finishes earning fifth place with a time of 44.986. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt won the weather-shortened race with a time of 44.742.

Latvia’s Andris Sics and Juris Sics were second (44.816) and Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken took bronze (44.896).

Park City native Anthony Espinoza and his partner Jacob Hyrns finished 11th with a time of 45.339. Their U.S. teammates Justin Garret Krewson and Andrew Sherk were 10th, edging them with a time of 45.265.

“You can never really argue with a fifth-place finish,” Terdiman said. “We had a small mistake at the start that probably cost us a medal this evening. …Knowing we have speed is very comforting.”

He said they are looking forward to Saturday’s sprint competition – which is a one-run event, as well. He said they will have no problem leaving Friday’s mistakes behind when the slide Saturday.

“You have got to have a really short memory in this sport,” Terdiman said. “If you make a mistake in one curve, you’ve got to fix it in the next…Just take a breath and go down the track.”

Email: adonaldson@deseretnews.com

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