Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman compete in the Men's Doubles during the 50th FIL Luge World Championships 2021 on Jan. 30, 2021 in Koenigssee, Germany.
In late September, Chris Mazdzer was in Sochi, Russia, training on the 2014 Olympic luge track. It was the defending Olympic silver medalist’s first time sliding since last March, and he was gearing up for what he hopes will be a historic year.
At the upcoming Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, Mazdzer wants to become the first luger since 1976 to win men’s singles and doubles luge medals at the same Games. Currently, he is the only slider competing in both singles and doubles luge — a difficult task given that the starts, track lines, and speeds are different.
He also wants to add a team relay Olympic medal to his collection.
“Honestly, I felt so good coming into the season,” said Mazdzer. “We have all new equipment, we were just really psyched about it.”
Mazdzer’s doubles partner, Jayson Terdiman, also wants to make history, wryly adding that he aims to become the first doubles luger to slide with three different partners in three different Olympic Games. Terdiman finished 11th at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 with Christian Niccum and 10th at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 with Matt Mortensen. He teamed up with Mazdzer in 2018 after Mortensen retired.
But the path to these 2022 Olympic goals became rockier when Mazdzer hit an icy fin with his right foot during a run on the Sochi track. His fourth and fifth toe metatarsals shattered upon impact. He also broke his ankle on the icy fin, which was created by ice melt building up on the track.
It was only his second day sliding this season. Mazdzer and Terdiman have yet to slide together in the pre-season.
After the injury, which did not even cause Mazdzer to crash, he flew back to Lake Placid, New York, for surgery. He now has pins in his foot — with cadaver paste and chips reshaping the bone — and is unable to put weight on it until the end of November.
Still, his goal has not changed.
“Will it potentially change?” Mazdzer said in an interview at USA Luge headquarters in mid-October. “I don’t know. I’m just taking it day by day, week by week. I don’t know how it’s going to play out.”
But “adversity is a good motivator,” he added.
Terdiman is taking it in stride — at least he appears to be.
The 32-year-old luge veteran is all too familiar with the fickle fate of doubles, where each slider is dependent on the health of the other. At the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, Mortensen slipped a disc in his back two days before the Opening Ceremony. After finishing third in the overall world cup standings in 2017, the two had been medal contenders in PyeongChang until Mortensen’s injury.
This go-round, time is on Terdiman and Mazdzer’s side, and Terdiman is remarkably chill.
“It’s still October,” he said. “Chris seems to be healing well, which is good. I’m going to keep the faith as long as I can, until somebody tells me it’s not happening.”