OBERHOF, Germany – American Chris Mazdzer continued his familiarity with the Viessmann FIL World Cup luge podium Saturday when he rallied from fourth place in the second heat to claim a bronze medal in Oberhof, Germany.
Germany took advantage of another home course, coupled with extra time in Oberhof which hosted their national championships last month, and took gold and silver in each of the doubles and men’s singles events.
Two-time Olympic gold medal winner and four-time world champion Felix Loch of Germany lowered the track record in both legs to easily defeat fellow countryman Andi Langenhan.
“I’m excited to be that close to Andi on his home track,” Mazdzer. “That says a lot. I felt awesome today and relaxed on the sled. My training here was good all week, but the second run today was the best.”
The six-time U.S. Norton National Champion has medaled this season in North America and now in Koenigssee and Oberhof.
“These are real German tracks,” Mazdzer stated. “Germany typically goes 1-2-3 here almost every time. They dominate here. To do that here is….just….it’s wow. Oberhof is a specialty track. You have to know what you’re doing here.”
Loch’s times down the 14 curve course were 43.505 and 43.323 for a total of 1 minute, 26.828 seconds. Langenhan registered 1:27.039, with Mazdzer next in 1:27.466.
“In the first run I messed up a little in (curves) 4-5,” he replayed. “Nothing too bad, but enough where it was noticeable. The second run was good all the way down. I knew it was a good run. I just didn’t know how good until I saw the time. It was serious track record conditions. The track was so fast.”
Mazdzer, the two-time Olympian from Saranac Lake, N.Y., also raced to a bronze medal two weeks ago in Koenigssee. He retained his top three ranking in the overall World Cup standings. Mazdzer has medaled in three consecutive World Cup meets, totaling five medals in that stretch including three in singles, and one each in a team relay and a Sprint World Cup. He will get another chance in Sunday’s team relay.
“This is a really mental sport,” he remarked about his march up the World Cup list. “When you’re in the track a lot happens. To be relaxed enough where you’re confident in your ability to push your limit and going for it and setting up your sled so it’s aggressive enough where you know you can do well. But also still being relaxed and trusting yourself. That’s a huge mental game you play with yourself.”
His teammate, Sochi Olympian Aidan Kelly of West Islip, N.Y., improved his final heat by almost 0.2 of a second and landed in 27th place with a time of 1:28.962.
On the season, Loch, now with four wins, leads with 563 overall World Cup points. Langenhan is next at 408 with Mazdzer totaling 393.
Tucker West of Ridgefield, Conn. is seventh. West raced to a World Junior Championship silver medal Friday in Lillehammer and did not compete in Oberhof. He will re-join the national team next week in Winterberg, Germany.
Matt Mortensen of Huntington Station, N.Y. and Jayson Terdiman of Berwick, Pa. improved their second run doubles start and consequently they, too, were nearly 0.2 of a second faster than their opening heat. They had the fifth fastest final run and a total race time of 1:23.615 which put them in ninth place.
The Germans staged their own event as they have all season. Initially this year Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken had the edge on Olympic champions Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, but now the pendulum is swinging by the slimmest of margins.
In Oberhof Wendl and Arlt emerged with the gold medal, just 0.01 of a second ahead of their teammates. The two sleds have shared all the victories – World Cup and Sprint World Cup – all season.
Wendl and Arlt totaled 1:22.762 for their third straight victory, compared to the 1:22.779 clocking of Eggert and Benecken on their home ice. Russia’s Alexandr Denisyev and Vladislav Antonov were third in 1:23.332, claiming their best career result.
Eggert and Benecken still lead the overall standings, however, with 655 World Cup points. Wendl and Arlt are second at 600. Andris and Juris Sics are next with 399 points. The Latvian brothers, two-time Olympic bronze medalists, were fifth in Saturday’s competition.
Mortensen and Terdiman are ranked eighth at 291 points.
The Oberhof World Cup weekend concludes Sunday with women’s singles starting at 3:05 AM Eastern Time, followed by the team relay. USA Luge has recorded bronze and silver medals in the two relays that have been held to date.