For Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman, winning silver at the FIL Luge World Cup Saturday in Altenberg, Germany felt as good as gold.
Mortensen and Terdiman competed this season with the goal of finishing in the top three of the overall world cup standings. While they had been there earlier in the season, they’d fallen in the rankings and sat in fourth going into the final world cup in Altenberg, still within striking distance behind the German tandem of Robin Johannes Geueke and David Gamm. To get back into the top three, Mortensen and Terdiman needed to beat Geueke and Gamm.
After the first run, Geueke and Gamm sat in second, with Mortensen and Terdiman third by one tenth of a second. Mortensen and Terdiman slid first in the second run, laying down a time of 42.040 for a total of 1:24.126 that put them in first place with two teams left to compete. Geueke and Gamm slid next. Despite losing speed in Curve 9, the Germans led at every split until the very last one. They came in at 42.185, bringing their total time to 1:24.167 – one hundredth of a second behind Mortensen and Terdiman.
Another German team, Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken, took first in 1:23.768. The second-place finish vaulted Mortensen and Terdiman from fourth to third place in the overall world cup standings, ahead of Geueke and Gamm by just three points. It marked the best season ranking by a U.S. doubles team in 14 years.
"Honestly I'm still in disbelief," Mortensen said, according to the Associated Press. "Just incredible."
Team USA’s Jacob Hyrns and Anthony Espinoza finished sixth for their career-best world cup finish to date. Justin Krewson and Andrew Sherk placed 12th.
Mortensen and Terdiman began sliding together during the 2014-2015 season, finishing seventh overall. In 2015-2016, they finished fifth.
"Mentally, I thought it was near impossible to regain third overall and I guess that took a lot of pressure off," Mortensen said. "I set up the sled as risky as possible because we had nothing to lose, we were guaranteed fourth anyway. I am so happy it worked in our favor today."
The 2016-2017 has been a breakout season for the pair as they won their first world cup medal together, a silver at the world cup in Lake Placid, New York. They also nabbed bronze in the sprint race at the Park City World Cup, and added several team relay medals: a world cup silver in Koenigssee and another silver at the world championships, the first-ever world championship medal won by Team USA in that event.
The men also competed in Altenberg on Saturday, with Tucker West just missing the podium in fourth place to finish seventh in the overall world cup standings. Action continues Sunday with women’s singles and the team relay.