Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman to join forces as USA Luge doubles team
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – On the first day of the sliding season in Lake Placid, USA Luge announced the re-formation of a doubles team as Pyeongchang silver medalist Chris Mazdzer will race this season with Olympic teammate Jayson Terdiman. The duo competed together in doubles as juniors.
For Mazdzer, a three-time Olympian, the undertaking will make him arguably the busiest international racer in the world. The 30-year-old will also compete in singles, the discipline that saw him score the first men’s Olympic medal in U.S. history. Mazdzer also finished third overall in the 2016 World Cup standings, only the second American man to do so. He won the pre-season Lillehammer Cup 10 days ago on the tricky 1994 Olympic course.
“In juniors over 10 years ago, I slid singles and doubles and was successful in both,” said the Salt Lake City resident by way of Saranac Lake, N.Y. “I felt I was a better doubles athlete than I was a singles athlete. Over the last 10 years, I focused on singles, had some great success, and honestly, I love a challenge. There’s no other doubles team (in the U.S.) and now is the time to challenge myself.”
Terdiman raced for USA Luge at the Games in 2014 and 2018 with Christian Niccum and Matt Mortensen, respectively. Mortensen and Terdiman anchored the U.S. foursome that placed fourth in the Pyeongchang team relay eight months ago.
“Chris and I sat down in early August and we talked about possibly getting the team back together,” stated Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa. “Being without a teammate when Matt retired in June, I didn’t really know what my future held. I really wanted to continue, but I didn’t know if I would be able to. But then sitting down, talking to Chris, I realized how serious he was about coming back to doubles and to compete in both singles and doubles at this level.”
The Mazdzer/Terdiman team took their first runs of the season together Monday afternoon as the team opened its training camp in Lake Placid with temperatures marching up to 50 degrees in humid conditions.
“Getting on the sled today, everything felt really good,” continued Terdiman. “We took five runs, nearly clean all the way down every run.
“I’m happy to be back on the team, back on the sled, back to the sport that I’ve loved for the last 20 years of my life, so I’m excited.”
Their initial run came from a lower start on Lake Placid’s serpentine track. Their final four heats saw them move up to the World Cup start.
“Jayson and I did really well in juniors, so I hoping to take it into the seniors,” added Mazdzer. “Everyone thought I was joking, but I was serious for the last year. Now I’m glad there’s momentum in this, and it all came to fruition today.”
After the excitement of their initial session on the ice, Mazdzer thought about the double task he faces.
“There are no guidelines for this. It’s kind of unprecedented. I don’t think there’s been a top man who’s done singles successfully in two or three decades.
“It’s going to come down to managing time between doubles and singles. I feel solid in singles. Every track in the world feels like a home track so I have that going for me, so I can really put my time more into doubles. I have started the season with singles feeling really good. Now I need to get doubles feeling good. I’m going to have to put more of a focus on doubles this year in order to get to the level that I want to be. I don’t know how that will affect singles so that’s going to be something to manage. That’s the hardest thing. The answer is, ‘I don’t know’, but I’m going to try.”
As will his exuberant sled mate. Now that the band is back, Terdiman senses gradual achievement as the Beijing Olympic cycle advances.
“When we finally figure everything out, and we get our stuff together, we’re going to be a fast team. And then we’re going to have a relay team. Chris has one of the fastest reactions in the world. Tucker has one of the fastest reactions in the world. We’ll have both of those guys in the same relay. It’ll be important for both of us to be patient in this process. I’m ready for it. He’s ready for it. Let’s see what the next year has to offer.”
The Mazdzer/Terdiman revelation was timely as USA Luge was set to open the World Cup and World Championship season with no doubles teams ready for World Cup racing. Retirements this off-season ended the runs of three experienced sleds, but now that dynamic is definitely altered.
Mazdzer, Terdiman and the rest of their teammates will be on their home track for two weeks, culminating with the Norton Seeding Races and National Championships on October 26-27. The World Cup campaign begins in Igls, Austria in late November, with the tour coming to Lake Placid December 15-16. Whereas it appeared doubtful earlier, USA Luge will have a full field entered in those races.