USA Luge Mazdzer 9th; Niccum-...

Mazdzer 9th; Niccum-Terdiman 11th; Mortensen-Griffall 16th in Altenberg World Cup races

Jan. 18, 2014, 11:55 a.m. (ET)

ALTENBERG, Germany – Chris Mazdzer led the United States Saturday in a pair of World Cup luge races in Altenberg, placing ninth in men’s singles, while teammates Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman settled for 11th place in the doubles race. Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall were 16th, also in doubles, for the U.S.

“The ice was softer and slower today. It messes up your timing and how hard you need to drive,” said Mazdzer, nominated last month to his second Olympic team. “I thought the first run was really good, but I messed up the bottom. I overdrove this little section.”

Both events saw Germans Felix Loch in singles and Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt in doubles take gold medals, thereby securing the World Cup overall titles in those disciplines.

The German luge team will skip the tour finals in Sigulda, Latvia next weekend to begin final preparations for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Despite the loss of the Sigulda results, their eight Olympic sleds will remain in the A seeds for the Olympic competitions.

Loch, the defending Olympic and World Champion, came from behind in the final heat to defeat Russia’s Albert Demchenko. The winner and three-time overall king had run times of 54.626 and 54.295 seconds for a combined 1 minute, 48.921 seconds. It was Loch’s fifth win of the season in eight starts and third straight.

Demchenko led Loch by 0.2 of a second at the intermission, but struggled to begin the deciding heat, and could not salvage the run. The 42 year old Torino Olympic silver medalist finished with a total time of 1:49.223.Another German, Andi Langenhan, claimed the bronze medal in 1:49.479.
Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, N.Y., was the lone American in the men’s field as neither Tucker West of Ridgefield, Conn., nor Aidan Kelly of West Islip, N.Y. qualified in the Friday Nations Cup competition.

In the ensuing weeks leading to Sochi, Mazdzer, normally one of the faster starters on the circuit, will closely examine his start technique. “I have to say that my start now is holding me back,” he remarked. “Even though I enjoyed 95 percent of both runs, I think I limited myself with the poor starts.”

While Mazdzer addresses the beginning of his runs, West and Kelly are headed to a Junior World Cup event next weekend in Oberhof, Germany where they raced in a World Cup last week.

Thereafter West and Kelly will join Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa., at the Junior World Championships Jan. 31-Feb. 1 in Igls, Austria. Britcher and West contributed to a gold medal two years ago in the team relay when Igls hosted the Youth Olympic Games.

Coming from the junior circuit last season, West and Kelly, in their first year at the World Cup level, tackled Altenberg’s unforgiving course this week from the top having no prior experience from the men’s start.

Loch concluded his World Cup season with 685 points. Compatriot David Moeller, the Vancouver Olympic silver medalist who was fourth Saturday, is next with 515. Italy’s Armin Zoeggeler, 40, is third with 495 points after placing fifth here.

Mazdzer clocked 1:49.842. In a career-best season, Mazdzer is in sixth place with 366 points.

In capturing their sixth race of the winter, Wendl and Arlt set a track record time of 41.853. They followed that with 41.936 and totaled 1:23.789. Olympic teammates Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken had the fastest second heat to lift themselves from fourth to second in 1:24.008. Austrians Peter Penz and Georg Fischler took bronze in 1:24.121.

Wendl and Arlt have a World Cup winning 770 overall points, followed by Eggert and Benecken with 630 and Penz with Fischler at 484.

Niccum of Woodinville, Wash., and Terdiman of Berwick, Pa., started each run quickly, but gave ground and finished 11th in 1:24.550. The duo is 13th on the campaign with 211 World Cup points.

Mortensen of Huntington Station, N.Y. and Griffall of Salt Lake City, both sergeants in the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program and National Guard, placed 16th in 1:24.838. They are ranked 10th on tour with 237 points.

Complete men’s results

Complete doubles results

Chris Mazdzer interview