Mazdzer ends his World Cup season

Chris Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, pushes off at the start of a luge training run during the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Mazdzer announced Friday his World Cup season was over due to an injury. (AP file photo — Wong Maye-E)

LAKE PLACID — As the result of a neck injury incurred in mid-January, 2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer has ended his luge season. He will return to the United States on Monday to be examined by USA Luge team doctor and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Eugene Byrne, of Lake Placid Sports Medicine.

“Tomorrow (Saturday) will officially be my last World Cup of the season,” Mazdzer posted on Instagram Friday night. “I have been fighting through some injuries that simply cannot be ignored any longer and on Monday, I will be heading back to the U.S. to figure out exactly what is wrong.”

The injury took place as he pulled from the start handles to begin a singles training run at the recent World Championships.

“This isn’t how I wanted my season to end, but I am excited to see what I can do at 100 percent again because as the season got underway, I was not 100 percent. It’s important to listen to the body … although I typically am of the mentality to push through anything … and look at the long-term goal of Beijing. I always hate the feeling of letting people down but luckily my teammates, and especially my doubles partner Jayson Terdiman, understand and are incredibly supportive.”

Mazdzer, a three-time Olympian who resides in Saranac Lake and Salt Lake City, is in Oberhof, Germany for this weekend’s World Cup series event. He and doubles partner Jayson Terdiman will race Saturday and Sunday, but will miss the World Cup finals Feb. 23-24 in Sochi.

The 30-year-old said, at the World Championships last month, that he felt something in his neck as he got the training run underway. The luge veteran was able to safely guide his sled through the entire course, and then spent the next 11 days getting treatment and rest to allow him to participate in the season’s highlight event.

With medical guidance, Mazdzer decided he could not race in singles, sprint singles, doubles, sprint doubles and the team relay over three days. He opted to enter just the doubles, doubles sprint and team relay. His best result was a fifth place in the sprint doubles with Terdiman.

The Mazdzer-Terdiman duo had been training and competing together since Oct. 15 in Lake Placid, where they decided to rejoin after 10 years apart. They won a pair of Junior World Championship doubles medals in 2007 and 2008 when they last raced together.

“Of course, this isn’t how we wanted our season to end, but it is in both of our best interests to get him home and seek the medical attention he needs,” said Terdiman, a 2014 and 2018 Olympian from Berwick, Pennsylvania. “We are thinking about the big picture and our eyes are set on Beijing. We are hoping that ending this season earlier will allow Chris the time to recover so we can get as much out of this summer as possible.

“We showed a lot of promise in our first year back together with the Sprint Cup medal in Lake Placid, the team relay medals in Calgary and Koenigssee, and a bunch of top 10 results. All of this was with Chris not at full physical potential, (so) I’m excited to see what we can do with him completely healthy and with more training together. I want to wish our teammates continuing in Sochi the best of luck. We have a great team and it’s an honor to be a part of it.”

Competing in singles and doubles on this winter’s World Cup tour, Mazdzer was the busiest athlete in the sport.

Had he opted not to partner with Terdiman, the U.S. would have had no doubles sleds on the tour this season, thus removing them from racing in team relays. The early end to the World Cup season will leave the American team absent from the final team relay in Sochi. Ironically, that relay was never on the original schedule, but became a make-up race when the team relay in Altenberg last weekend was snowed out.