As a part of my day job I am working with the US Luge Association on the sled development program (yeah my relationship with US Luge Association is complicated). The athlete we have had the most contact with is Chris Mazdzer. Chris was a part of the 2010 US Olympic Team in Whistler. Since then he has struggled on the World Cup Tour. At the end of last year Chris started to come on finishing 6th in the World Championships and then following that up with a 5th place finish in the Lake Placid World Cup to end the season.
Chris continued to build momentum this season. Three weeks ago Chris finished 4th in a Wold Cup, his best finish ever. One week ago Chris finished second in the World Cup at Whistler. That was his first podium. He was sliding fast and with confidence coming into Park City.
After Chris’ first run he was tied for 3rd (Think about how crazy that is for a minute. Tied to 1/1000th of a second) with the reigning World Champion. Chris was third from last on the second run (remember reverse order of finish) and he threw down a blazing fast run standing on in the lead after his run. He was guaranteed at least a 3rd place finish. The second place slider went and could not beat Chris’ time. Finally the first place slider went down. His run was fast enough to capture first place. Chris finished second.
That’s Chris on the left after the race concluded.
Chris was ecstatic. I’ve gotten to know Chris’ parents a little bit this past year, they were ecstatic too. Chris had already made the Olympic team and so his goals were kind of different. Continue to improve and slide fast. Check and Check….
Here is the Men’s podium
I want to mention the guy who finished in first place, Armin Zöggeler, from Italy. If any non US slider win’s an event, he is my pick. Armin is almost 40 years old. This winter he will compete in his 6th Olympic games. He is a fantastic slider. Great form, smooth on the sled, and still blazing fast. I feel a connection with him, not because he is an Olympian, but because he is almost as old as I am. My 40 (something) year old body know’s what it’s like to be that old. My hack luging career allows me to have some suggestion of what it would be like to slide competitively at that age. My hat goes off to him.
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