Emily Sweeney, of the United States, loses control and hits the wall after racing to a third-place finish during a World Cup women's luge event in Whistler, British Columbia, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. Credit: Darryl Dyck | AP

Portland native and 2018 U.S. Olympian Emily Sweeney paced all Americans with a fourth-place effort in the women’s sprint race as the luge World Championships got underway Friday in Winterberg, Germany.

The sprint format uses the “flying start” concept where all disciplines embark from their normal positions, but the timing begins some 100 meters later than usual. It is a non-Olympic event.

Sweeney, who has paced herself in returning from a crash during her final Olympic run 11 months ago in South Korea, finished behind three German lugers and less than 0.08 seconds from earning a podium spot.

“I’m pretty happy with my performance today,” said Sweeney, who attended schools in Falmouth before moving to her current home in Suffield, Connecticut. “I had two good runs, one in the qualifying and then one in the sprint World Championships. I would have liked to have been closer to the German times just to be in the top three, but I’m glad I could put some pressure on them.”

Natalie Geisenberger, arguably the greatest woman racer in the history of luge, captured the world title with a time of 36.628 seconds.

The 25-year-old Sweeney was timed in 38.747 seconds, compared to the 36.668 turned in by third-place finisher Dajana Eitberger.

Saturday’s 48th World Championships continue with doubles and women’s singles beginning at 5:10 a.m. Saturday.