Chris Mazdzer 4th in singles; Teams with Jayson Terdiman for 6th in doubles at Viessmann Lake Placid World Cup
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer finished fourth in singles Saturday, and then came back to team with Jayson Terdiman in doubles for a sixth-place result to highlight the day for USA Luge at the Viessmann Lake Placid World Cup.
On a comfortable December day in the Adirondacks, Mazdzer opened the singles race with a fifth-place heat, before posting the third best final run. He missed the podium by 0.04 of a second. It matched his effort here two years ago. The 30-year-old three-time Olympian is eyeing a return to the podium for the first time since February 2016 when he finished third in the overall World Cup standings.
“I had two awesome runs,” said Mazdzer. “I’m totally happy with how I performed today. I left nothing on the track.”
Mazdzer’s teammates Tucker West and Jonny Gustafson were 10th and 17th, respectively.
With less than an hour between races, the Pyeongchang medalist prepared for the doubles race, where he teamed with Terdiman for a seventh place first run before improving to sixth. In their return to doubles competition after 10 years apart, the Mazdzer-Terdiman project is off to a resounding start. They began in Igls, Austria with a 10th place result last month. Since then, the twosome has been seventh, fifth and sixth as the World Cup tour is one-day away from its traditional holiday break.
In the gap between Saturday’s events, Lake Placid said farewell to Erin Hamlin. The 2014 Olympic bronze medalist and 2018 United States flag bearer took her official retirement run down her home track as a forerunner. It came on the same Olympic Sports Complex course where she captured the 2009 World Championship.
Although she hadn’t taken a run in the past 10 months until a practice attempt Friday, Hamlin looked every bit the part. She donned her Olympic helmet, race suit and FIL bib.
Coming off the course, Hamlin, married in July, was greeted by her parents Eileen and Ron, former teammates and competitors, a gift basket, flowers and a homemade cake.
In addition to Mazdzer placing just off the podium, the most noteworthy news of the men’s race was the disqualification of Wolfgang Kindl of Austria. The World Cup leader was starting to runaway with the overall crown after just three weeks.
In the opening run, Kindl, another newly-wed, was third, but later it was discovered that his sled was 0.67 of a pound overweight which led to his disqualification.
The faux pas created a double whammy for Kindl – he not only lost Saturday’s race points, but also the points awarded in Sunday’s BMW sprint races for the top 15. That’s a 200-point potential that will now turn a World Cup runaway into a bona fide chase for the men’s crown, especially with three races to come in Germany.
For the second straight year, Russian Roman Repilov, also married in the off-season, won at Mount Van Hoevenberg. The track record holder from last year’s event – in brutally cold and faster conditions - wasn’t particularly fast in the shallower upper sections. However, he built momentum later and carried it through the 19th and final curve. The World Cup champion two years ago posted the two best heats of the race and totaled 1 minute, 43.048 seconds.
Long in the shadow of teammate and double Olympic champion Felix Loch, Johannes Ludwig, of Germany, the 2018 Olympic bronze medalist, was fourth in singles a year ago in Lake Placid and second in the sprint, setting the stage for his silver medal runs Saturday morning. Ludwig was timed in 1:43.219. Austria’s Reinhard Egger has raced to consecutive World Cup bronze medals after taking third today in 1:43.275.
Mazdzer was next in 1:43.315.
“I couldn’t have done any better and it’s good knowing that,” he stated. “I was so close. Fourth place at home. Now I’ve had two fourth places at home. It’s the worst feeling ever, but it’s also really good.
“We’re creeping forward so it’s awesome. It’s good to have this momentum. I’m really pumped going into the second half.”
West, of Ridgefield, Conn., and Gustafson, of Massena, N.Y., could not get untracked despite having some of the fastest starts in the world. A two-time Olympian, West finished 0.87 from Repilov. The result ended a streak of four consecutive podium results in Lake Placid, including a gold medal.
Gustafson was one of numerous sleds to drift to the wall exiting the third turn. With little vertical drop at that point, the loss of speed was telling the rest of the way down Mount Van Hoevenberg.
The updated World Cup overall standings show Kindl with just a 20-point advantage over Ludwig, while Loch, fifth behind Mazdzer in the race, is third on the season. Mazdzer stands 12th, Gustafson 13th and West 17th.
Germans Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken have captured six consecutive races in Lake Placid. Two months ago, they weren’t even sure they’d be here after Eggert suffered a broken fibula while training in Oberhof.
But the miracle recovery is now into its fifth event of the season – Eggert and Benecken, 2018 Olympic bronze medal winners, have two gold and two silver medals and have overtaken Austria’s Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koller in the World Cup chase.
The track record holders nailed the two best heat times and won going away. Their 1:27.492 bested teammates and two-time Olympic gold medalists Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt by nearly 0.3 of a second. Wendl and Arlt are third on the nine-stop campaign.
Steu and Koller were next, over 0.5 off the pace. Mazdzer and Terdiman clocked two heats totaling 1:28.428.
“We watched a little bit of video after the (training) session yesterday, and saw a few things that might have been the issue, and came out with a great plan this morning and it really worked out,” commented Terdiman, a two-time Olympian from Berwick, Pa.
“We had major mistakes all week, but today we had very clean runs. The second one I’m super proud of, so it’s a mental victory today.”
“Awesome day. Awesome day. I’m really happy. I’m glad I made all my mistakes yesterday.” added Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, N.Y.
Although their themes the past two months have been progress and patience, the reality finds them closer to the podium sooner than expected.
“We’re in the top six. Anyone in the top six can find their way to the podium,” assessed Terdiman. “It’s going to take a little bit of that extra luck for us. Again, four weeks into a season, 10 years off for (Chris), it’s incredible right now. It’s riding high. It’s great.”
USA Luge’s lone World Cup doubles team is currently ranked eighth on the season. However, if they can take advantage of Sunday’s BMW sprint racing format, they could improve on that. In the sprint, athletes pull from their respective start heights, but the timing doesn’t begin for some 100 meters. The Americans hope the flying start concept will work in their favor.
The Viessmann World Cup resumes Sunday morning at 8:30 AM ET with women’s singles, followed by the sprints in all three disciplines. OlympicChannel.com will provide live streaming.
Broadcast coverage can be seen on the Olympic Channel from 8 – 9:30 PM ET tonight; NBC Sports Network will air from 4 – 6 PM ET Sunday; followed again by the Olympic Channel Sunday from 8 – 9 PM ET.