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Benshoof Leads Luge Qualifying

October 23, 1997

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) _ Tony Benshoof took the first step toward qualifying for the United States luge team’s World Cup squad on Thursday by capturing a race-off against four teammates.

Three spots remain open on the U.S. men’s team behind veterans Duncan Kennedy of Lake Placid, N.Y. and Wendel Suckow of Marquette, Mich.

The 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic team will be chosen from the World Cup tour.

Benshoof, a resident of White Bear Lake, Minn., battled against a steady snowfall that slowed the track throughout the morning.

The event allowed each racer to score the best two of three heats.

``I knew I had to get the first run right in those conditions; otherwise it’s hopeless,″ said Benshoof, 22, whose career-best World Cup performance is a sixth.

``There was a little weight off my shoulders after that run. The second was also pretty good, and even though we took a third run, I felt the track conditions would make it difficult for someone to have a really fast time.″

Benshoof covered the 0.8-mile course in 47.580 and 49.437 seconds for an aggregate of 1 minute, 37.017 seconds.

Lake Placid’s Adam Heidt recorded the best time of the second leg to improve from fourth to second overall in 1:37.121.

Two-time Olympian Robert Pipkins of Bloomfield, N.J., was .006 seconds further back in 1:37.127.

Larry Dolan of Morrisonville, N.Y., was fourth in 1:37.199 and 1994 Olympian Jon Edwards of South Weymouth, Mass., was fifth in 1:37.555.

The second competition is slated for Saturday with the third and concluding race-off Oct. 31 in Calgary, Alberta.

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