Chris Mazdzer after competing at the 50th FIL Luge World Championships 2021 on Jan. 30, 2021 in Koenigssee, Germany.
In a year that has been anything but normal, the U.S. luge team has something to celebrate just being able to compete on a world championship track.
Originally scheduled for Calgary and Vancouver, Canada, but moved due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 50th FIL World Luge Championships, part of the 2021 Team USA Champions Series, presented by Xfinity, kicked off Saturday in Koenigssee, Germany with doubles and men’s singles action. The U.S. team got a late start to its season due to the pandemic, only starting to compete internationally earlier in January. Team USA’s Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman teamed up in doubles, while Mazdzer, Jonny Gustafson and Tucker West went after the men’s singles title.
It was Mazdzer, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist, who had the best performance of the day, putting down a 1:38.682 to finish in 10th place. That’s the best finish for Mazdzer in men’s singles at the world championships since 2016, when he finished fourth. Olympian Tucker West finished in 14th, his same position from 2020. Gustafson did not advance, finishing in 31st after one run. They were all chasing now two-time world champion Roman Repilov of the Russian Luge Federation and his 1:37.810.
The day began with doubles, with Mazdzer and Terdiman turning in a 1:41.816 to finish in 16th, 1.885 seconds behind Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken of Germany, who won their third consecutive world championship. It was something of a bounce-back effort for Mazdzer and Terdiman after a frustrating 2020 world championships in which they were disqualified for irregular runner temperatures. The pair finished 11th in 2019.
The world championships continue Sunday with women’s singles and the team relay. Brittney Arndt, Olympic medalist Ashley Farquharson and Olympians Summer Britcher and Emily Sweeney are set to compete in singles for Team USA.