Chris Mazdzer, Summer Britcher capture first of two Norton Seeding Races and hold the halfway leads to a Norton USA Luge National Championship
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – Pyeongchang silver medalist Chris Mazdzer and his Olympic teammate Summer Britcher threw down the fastest two heats on Friday morning and cruised to victories over Jonny Gustafson and Brittney Arndt, respectively, in the first of two Norton USA Luge Seeding Races in Lake Placid.
Mazdzer raced to a nearly half-second win, with Britcher almost 0.25 of a second ahead of the field.
The second seeding event is slated for Saturday morning at Mount Van Hoevenberg, with the combination of all four runs determining the Norton National Champion. The winners will have their names engraved on the Frank Masley Trophy. Race time is 9:30 AM ET and will stream live at USALuge.org.
There was no official doubles event. After a spate of retirements in the off-season ending the run of three sleds, there will be no official doubles races this weekend. USA Luge has one team – Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman – at the World Cup level. The organization stipulates there must be three sleds in the field to constitute an official race.
Two junior teams are currently preparing to tackle the Junior World Cup tour. One of them, Dana Kellogg of Chesterfield, Mass. and Duncan Segger of Lake Placid participated with Mazdzer and Terdiman Friday in an exhibition race.
Mazdzer and Terdiman made the partnership official 10 days ago at the Olympic Sports Complex and have been piling up the training runs in that time. They last competed as a doubles team 10 years ago in their junior days.
In clear, sunny and cold conditions, Mazdzer’s two attempts totaled 1 minute, 43.882 seconds, giving him an advantage of nearly half a second over Jonny Gustafson of Massena, N.Y.
“Today went really well in singles,” said three-time Olympian Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, N.Y. “The nice thing is I left off training yesterday with singles, so moving into the singles race today everything felt good, consistent. Two pretty good runs, but we’re only halfway through so anything can happen, so just like the Olympics, attack tomorrow just like I did today.”
Gustafson registered a combined time of 1:44.349 for second place ahead of 2014 and 2018 Olympian Tucker West of Ridgefield, Conn. West had a bobble as he started his second heat and recorded 1:44.668. All three athletes are headed to the World Cup opener in late November.
A group of juniors entered the Norton events, with Zack DiGregorio of Medway, Mass. fourth and Sean Hollander of Lake Placid fifth.
Britcher, also a two-time Olympic team member, turned back Arndt and Raychel Germaine for the first race victory and midway advantage in the chase for a Norton U.S. crown. Britcher’s pair for runs produced a time of 1:29.296 as temps rose from 25 to 30 degrees during the morning.
“I was pretty excited when I got out here and it was cold weather,” commented Britcher of Glen Rock, Pa. “We had some great track prep. I personally really like sliding on the fastest ice….cold, hard ice. So it just felt really good to have those better conditions. I made a mistake in my second run but luckily it all still came together.”
Britcher currently holds five World Cup singles wins, most in team history. With nine upcoming events on the tour, she hopes to add to that total. To get there, she’s been putting in the on-ice work in the fall.
“Pre-season has gone pretty well,” she continued. “We’ve gotten a lot of runs. We’ve had training on three tracks already and Monday we head to Calgary, so we’ve got runs, we’ve had different tracks. I feel like we’re ready for World Cup.”
Arndt of Park City, Utah had two legs totaling 1:29.526. Germaine of Roswell, Ga., nursing a sore shoulder, was third in 1:29.852. Junior Ashley Farquharson, also of Park City, was fourth. Grace Weinberg of Pittsfield, Vt. took fifth place.
Pyeongchang Olympian Emily Sweeney of Suffield, Conn. took a number of training runs this week in Lake Placid and acted as a forerunner prior to the women’s race. She continues her gradual comeback after crashing in South Korea last February. Sweeney previously hit the ice earlier this month in Lillehammer.
Mazdzer and Terdiman began contemplating a reunion during the summer. Mazdzer previously stated that he was ready for this challenge, and Terdiman needed a partner to remain in the sport after the retirement of front man Matt Mortensen.
While Terdiman’s Olympic medal-winning teammate is assessing the nuances of a doubles start, Terdiman is looking at the big picture.
“For 10 days, after 10 years off, it’s going pretty well,” stated the 2014 and 2018 Team USA member from Berwick, Pa. “We knew going into this it was going to be a challenge. Chris really hasn’t been on a doubles sled in 10 years. It’s a totally different feeling up there. It’s different lines and different body movements and things like that, so we’re slowly progressing. We had a lot of little issues throughout the training prior to this exhibition race. Second run today, though, was our first fully clean, great run. We hit all our driving points right down the gut of the track. Hopefully, we can continue to get more and more comfortable together leading into the World Cup season.”
That schedule begins November 24-25 in Igls, Austria, and comes to Lake Placid December 15-16.