Chris Mazdzer within striking distance to give USA Luge its first ever men’s singles medal
German Felix Loch in command but tight race for second, third places
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Chris Mazdzer put himself in position Saturday night to win USA Luge’s first Olympic medal in men’s singles.
Mazdzer is in fourth place after two of four heats at the Alpensia Sliding Centre. The deciding two runs are set for Sunday night.
A three-time Olympian who finished 13th in both the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games, the Saranac Lake, N.Y. slider wore lucky bib number 13 and put himself in fifth place after the opening run on a chilly night that saw temps in the mid-20s with a wind chill of 15 degrees. The weather led to difficult race conditions.
“It’s the ice. It is so hard right now,” said Mazdzer. “The training wheels are off. For the Olympics, you just have to go for it. So that was the goal coming into this week, because we knew the temps were gonna drop. When the ice warmed up, I slowed down, but in conditions like this, it comes down to a lot of experience, and luckily my experience happens to be from Lake Placid where it’s even colder than this right now. That’s what’s playing to my strengths. I’m having a lot of fun out here.”
Adding that he is racing with no pressure, Mazdzer reeled off the second fastest second heat and now is just 0.03 from second place and a scant 0.001 of a second from third. His two runs totaled 1 minute, 35.517 seconds.
Two-time defending Olympic champion Felix Loch of Germany, second after one leg behind Olympic rookie David Gleirscher of Austria, overcame the youngster in the second run and leads by 0.2 of a second.
Loch’s 1:35.299 didn’t look pretty – his runs seldom do – but he’s now positioned to match the record of German assistant coach George Hackl who has three Olympic singles gold medals.
Mazdzer, on the other hand, will attempt to exceed the fourth place Olympic results of Adam Heidt in 2002 and Tony Benshoof in 2006.
Teammates Tucker West of Ridgefield, Conn. is 18th and Taylor Morris of South Jordan, Utah is 23rd.
The third run is set for Sunday night at 8 PM local time, 6 AM ET.
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