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The United States doubles team of Christian Niccum and Matt McClain won

February 23, 1997

OBERHOF, Germany (AP) _ The United States doubles team of Christian Niccum and Matt McClain won a third consecutive world junior luge championship Saturday and then watched teammate Maryann Baribault race to a silver medal in the ladies event.

Niccum, of Woodinville, Wash., and McClain, of Lake Placid, N.Y., captured the 1995 world title in Lake Placid and the 1996 title in Calgary, Alberta.

Baribault, of La Canada, Calif., took second after also winning the previous two years.

All three raced on the World Cup tour this season, but are eligible for junior events until age 20. The three youngsters are also expected to vie for spots on the 1998 Olympic team.

Niccum and McClain, winners of a World Cup meet in Lillehammer, Norway this year, recorded the two fastest times of the day and were over a second clear of the field en route to the gold. The Americans were timed in 1 minute, 21.617 seconds.

The German sled of Maik Sachse and Nico Zink was second in 1:22.703. Italy’s Christian Oberstolz and Patrick Gruber took bronze in 1:22.848.

Baribaults’ bid for a third straight crown fell seven-hundredths of a second short to Britta Steinmetz of Germany. Steinmetz opened a 13-hundredths advantage after one leg, and held on for the gold while Baribault recorded the best second heat time.

Steinmetz was clocked in a two-run aggregate time of 1:25.026, while Baribaults’ silver medal came in 1:25.096. Anke Wischnewski, also of Germany, placed third in 1:25.719.

First year luger Courtney Zablocki of Highlands Ranch, Colo. took ninth in 1:27.079.

Brenna Margol of Sawyer, Mich., another rookie, slid back to 11th after standing fourth through one heat, finishing in 1:27.311 while Alice Trend of St. Paul, Minn. was 16th in 1:28.043.

The world junior championships conclude Sunday with the United States looking to defend the team title it won last year.

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