BYU's Kate Hansen taking 2014-15 luge season off to focus on academics
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Kate Hansen will not be competing with USA Luge this coming season, opting instead to focus on academics.
The BYU student's absence was the most notable development on the fall 2014 national team roster that was unveiled Tuesday. The native of La Caada Flintridge, California, became the first American in more than 16 years to win a World Cup singles race when she prevailed in last season's finale, capping what was by far her best season on the international circuit.
Even without Hansen, the women's national team has plenty of past accomplishment.
Former world champion and reigning Olympic bronze medalist Erin Hamlin of Remsen, New York headlines the team, joined by 2014 Olympian Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania; 2010 Olympian Julia Clukey of Augusta, Maine; and 2013 junior world champion Emily Sweeney of Suffield, Connecticut.
In men's singles, two-time World Cup silver medalist Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, New York returns to the team, joined by fellow Sochi Olympians Tucker West (Ridgefield, Connecticut) and Aidan Kelly (West Islip, New York), as well as Taylor Morris (South Jordan, Utah).
Mazdzer was fifth in the World Cup standings last season. Kelly will be on the national team full-time, while West is eligible to alternate between the national and junior national teams.
The doubles roster will have new looks, after the expected retirement of three-time Olympian Christian Niccum of Woodinville, Washington.
Matt Mortensen (Huntington Station, New York) and Jayson Terdiman (Berwick, Pennsylvania) will race together for the first time, after both competed at the Sochi Olympics with different teammates. Terdiman raced with Niccum and Mortensen had been paired with two-time Olympian Preston Griffall, who is not competing this season in order to focus on his studies. Griffall will also be training at the 2002 Olympic track in Park City, Utah.
Former overall junior World Cup champions Jake Hyrns of Muskegon, Michigan and Andrew Sherk of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania are on the team, as is Anthony Espinoza of Park City, Utah. Espinoza's teammate has not yet been determined.
Only Hamlin, Clukey and Mazdzer are guaranteed spots on the fall World Cup team, which opens competition at Igls, Austria in late November. Other national team members will compete in race-offs this fall to determine the rest of the U.S. World Cup roster.
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