Mazdzer Terdiman 5th in Calgary

By Sandy Caligiore | Dec. 07, 2018, 8:37 p.m. (ET)

 

CALGARY, Alberta – USA Luge’s lone doubles team, racing together this season for the first time in 10 years, continued their march to the World Cup podium Friday by finishing fifth on the 1988 Olympic track in Calgary.

Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman started training together October 15 in Lake Placid. They opened the season in Innsbruck last month with a 10th place result in their comeback event. Last week at Whistler they improved to seventh, and now a top five.

“Today was a lot better than training,” said Mazdzer, a three-time Olympian and 2018 silver medalist from Saranac Lake, N.Y. “Because we’re a new team, it’s like every run we’re getting better.”

Fellow American Tucker West posted his best result of the winter to date in the ensuing singles race. West, of Ridgefield, Conn., was eighth on an atypical day when the Germans did not medal in men’s singles.

Jonny Gustafson was 21st, while Mazdzer came back in singles, stood seventh at the intermission, but made a costly mistake exiting curve eight in the second heat, and dropped back to 24th.

 

DOUBLES

German doubles domination continued as four-time Olympic champions (twice each in doubles and team relay) Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt raced to victory at Canada Olympic Park. As skiers and snowboarders were enjoying the early season snow around them, the Germans had the two quickest heats of the morning, and totaled 1 minute, 27.489 seconds. The winners held off Pyeongchang bronze medalists Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken by nearly 0.1 of a second. The young Austrians, Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koller, fourth at the 2018 Olympics, had the bronze medal time of 1:27.761.

Meanwhile, Mazdzer and Terdiman are learning and improving faster than expected. In fact, Mazdzer’s footwork at the start of the first leg inadvertently tripped the start timing or they may have finished higher. The faux pas led to the slowest start time of the heat. Their second run produced a start time that was 0.06 of a second faster and helped them improve from sixth to fifth place.

The twosome clocked 1:27.930. Interestingly, their run in Thursday night’s seeded group training was not their best. Mazdzer chuckled and said it was the best thing to do.

“Always great to get that (mistakes) out of the way,” added Sochi and Pyeongchang Olympian Terdiman, from Berwick, Pa. “This way all the butterflies are gone. We knew what we had to do today. We came out and performed to the best of our ability after being in only our third World Cup. The top five is a great place to sit.”

On the season, Steu and Koller remain atop the rankings after winning the first two events of the season. They have 330 overall World Cup points, but have no breathing room as Eggert and Benecken have 325. Mazdzer and Terdiman are eighth with 176 points.

 

MEN’S SINGLES

The afternoon event in Calgary produced some interesting storylines among the men.

Gold medalist Wolfgang Kindl, of Austria, is nearly unbeatable thus far with his usual formula: a slow start, great sliding and an ability to accelerate like none other. After opening the year with a bronze medal at home, the recently married Kindl has reeled off three consecutive wins. The diminutive racer clocked a combined 1:29.249.

The silver medalist was another newlywed, Roman Repilov, of Russia, who sacrificed many World Cup points last weekend when visa problems prevented him from reaching Whistler from Innsbruck. The World Cup champion two years ago posted an aggregate time of 1:29.315.

David Gleirscher, another Austrian, grabbed the bronze medal. In a strange twist, it was Gleirscher’s first career World Cup podium result and occurred after winning the Olympic title in South Korea. He was 0.12 behind his teammate.

Double Olympic champion, Felix Loch of Germany, fifth to Gleirscher back in February, staged a rally for the ages. Sitting well back in 13th place at the midway point of the race, Loch won the final heat and shot up to fourth place.

Kindl, Loch and Johannes Ludwig, of Germany, comprise the top three in the season-long chase, with Kindl ahead by over 100 points.

West, a 2014 and 2018 Olympian, was 0.3 behind Kindl.

“The first run wasn’t quite ideal,” replayed West. “I had a little hiccup in the start and a little bit down low, but rallied for a good second run and ended up in eighth place. So overall, I’m happy with the result. It’s definitely a bounce back from the previous two races, so hopefully this is the momentum that’s getting started.

“The biggest thing in luge is that you have to be confident with everything you have. You have to be confident you can stick a good run down. You have to be confident you have the fastest sled in the world. You have to be confident in yourself, so every good race builds on that confidence.”

Gustafson is showing signs that he can grab a foothold on the U.S. men’s team. A quick starter, Gustafson is learning the art of sliding. On Friday he showed fast split times through the middle of the course. He clocked in at 1:30.339.

The Massena, N.Y. native was disappointed with a first heat that tumbled him to 28th place. After the break, however, he improved nine spots.

“It wasn’t what I was looking for,” remarked Gustafson. “First run, obviously, a little sloppy there. Little mistakes. But I’m still young. Still getting experience on all these tracks. I was happy to have that good second run and looking forward to getting to Lake Placid.

After finishing third in the overall World Cup standings to end the 2016 season, Mazdzer spent the better part of two years trying to find that same form that gave him three World Cup victories. He latched on to it in late January in Sigulda and rode it to the Olympic podium in South Korea.

Starting this season, even after adding a second discipline, the 30-year-old is further ahead. But walls don’t care who’s bumping into them, and Friday those walls had the final say.

“The speed is there. We’re going in the right direction,” commented Mazdzer, who totaled 1:30.433. “It’s just consistency. That’s the hardest part. Different speeds, different sleds. To be absolutely perfect in both disciplines is a challenge and I knew it was going to take a couple of races. Last weekend worked out great. This weekend, almost great.”

However, the weekend for Mazdzer isn’t over yet. He and Terdiman will anchor the USA Luge relay team Saturday afternoon. West will race the middle leg. Those two sleds have the fastest reaction starts on the circuit.

Who will run the lead leg will be determined in the morning when the women’s singles event is contested. The day begins at 11:40 AM ET with live streaming on OlympicChannel.com.

RESULTS AND STANDINGS