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Niccum, Joye earn Olympic berth in luge doubles

LILLEHAMMER, Norway - LILLEHAMMER, Norway (AP) — Christian Niccum and Dan Joye teamed to finish fourth in a World Cup luge doubles race Saturday, clinching spots on the U.S. roster for the Vancouver Olympics.

It will be the second Olympic trip for both sliders, their first as sledmates.

Three of the 10 spots on the U.S. Olympic luge team are now filled. World women's champion Erin Hamlin formally wrapped up her Olympic ticket last week. This weekend's World Cup event was the final stop before USA Luge submits its list of nominations for Vancouver to the U.S. Olympic Committee.

"First of all, it feels great to make the Olympic team," Niccum said. "This year, from the beginning of the season, we've had some sled problems. We got disqualified in our very first race and it was a battle to get to where we thought we could."

The entire U.S. Olympic luge team will be revealed next week. Three men, three women and two doubles teams will be heading to Vancouver. Besides Niccum and Joye, the other doubles team will be composed of either Olympic veterans Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin or Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall.

The decision on the other doubles entry will be known next week, either after a Wednesday race-off in Lillehammer or through a coaches' discretionary selection.

"All this training and all this sacrifice that I've been doing, it's come down to this race," Joye said. "I felt very confident that Niccum and I could drive the sled down."

Austrian brothers Andreas and Wolfgang Linger, the 2006 Olympic gold medalists, won Saturday's race. Christian Oberholz and Patrick Gruber of Italy took second and fellow Italians Gerhard Plankensteiner and Oswald Haselrieder took third.

Mortensen and Griffall were 12th on Saturday, one spot ahead of Grimmette and Martin.

The men's and women's World Cup singles races in Lillehammer are on Sunday.

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