US Luge staffs up for 2022
LAKE PLACID — In just a matter of months after Erin Hamlin led the American delegation at the 2018 opening ceremony in South Korea and Chris Mazdzer raced to an Olympic silver medal two nights later, USA Luge has started to craft its staffing plans with designs on adding more hardware in 2022 and beyond.
Mazdzer’s medal was the first for the United States in men’s singles since luge entered the Olympic program in 1964.
“After Chris’s achievement, and the bronze medal from Erin Hamlin four years ago, it’s imperative that we keep the momentum going,” said Jim Leahy, USA Luge CEO.
Similarly, Hamlin’s Sochi bronze was a first for the Americans in women’s singles.
“To that end, we are organizing ourselves now for success four years from now in Beijing,” Leahy said.
There is a change taking place at the board level where Dwight Bell, who has served five terms as USA Luge president over the past 35 years, has given way to Erin Warren. The two-time Olympian, who finished sixth in Nagano, was voted into office in the March 22 board meeting.
“I am privileged to serve this organization, especially knowing how Dwight’s stewardship has served USA Luge so well for so long,” Warren said. “This board will remain true to its mission of developing athletes that will compete successfully and honorably at the sport’s highest levels.”
Warren also stated that Leahy has made a commitment to USA Luge for the next quadrennial, leading the staff and athletes through Beijing.
The national governing body also announced that interim head coach Bill Tavares has agreed to shed the interim title and take the reins of the national team for the next four years. Tavares, a 1992 luge Olympian, has now coached teams that have won medals in five consecutive Olympic Winter Games, going back to his days as coach of the U.S. women’s bobsled team.
Tavares also announced the return of assistant coaches Bengt Walden and Lubomir Mick, as well as certified athletic trainer Matt Oakes and team manager Keith Younger.
The USA Luge Junior National Team will now be led by Robert Fegg, who takes over as head coach from Fred Zimny. After three decades in the organization, Zimny has decided to pursue other opportunities.
Fegg raced with Germany from 1997 to 2001, winning medals at the World Championships and Junior World Championships. He coached with the Canadian Luge Association from 2003 to 2014, and then moved on to coach the Korean national team from 2014 to 2018. The home team in Pyeongchang scored three top 10 Olympic results.
Nagano Olympian Larry Dolan, who headed the USA Luge C Team, will now join Fegg as assistant coach on the Junior National Team.
Bethany Bedford, a two-time Olympian, will take the reins from Dolan as head coach of the C Team.
Aidan Kelly, 2014 Olympian, is the head of recruitment including the White Castle USA Luge Slider Search as well as leading the organization’s Development Team where its’ youngest athletes enter the pipeline.
Finally, Warren, Bell, Leahy, Mick and Mazdzer are among seven Americans who also have positions within the International Luge Federation (FIL). The others are Claire Del Negro, Vice President of Sport and Dr. Eugene Byrne of Lake Placid Sports Medicine who is now a member of the FIL Medical Commission.