IGLS, Austria - In the first official run of the new international racing season Friday morning, Saranac Lake's Chris Mazdzer a bronze medal in Nations Cup qualifying for this weekend's men's World Cup race.
American Julia Clukey continues to show progress as she finished fourth in the women's Nations Cup qualifier.
"I was happy to get my first international race run out of the way," Clukey said. "The qualifying Nations Cup is almost more stressful than the World Cup, because it is a one run shot. I was a little disappointed with my start time and the top of the track, but my goal this season is to attack every run and I did that today."
Canadians Alex Gough in the women's event and doubles sliders Tristan Walker and Justin Snith won their divisions in track record times.
Mazdzer rode the first sled in the single-heat competition and finished in 50.671 seconds. The 2010 Olympian placed .18 of a second behind Latvian winner Inars Kivlenieks.
"Things went well today," said Mazdzer. "The track sped up about one second from my fastest training run previously this week. It was weird going through the bottom curves because all of a sudden, I had way more pressure (in the curves) than I was used to or expecting.
"I still have room for improvement since I messed up a little bit down low," Mazdzer added.
Another Canadian, Sam Edney, took second place.
The 24-year-old Mazdzer was joined by Taylor Morris as the lone U.S. qualifiers for Sunday's two-heat World Cup race.
Morris, of South Jordan, Utah, posted the 15th best time of 51.132.
Gough, with two World Cup wins in her career, shot down the 1964 and 1976 Olympic course in 40.210 seconds. Germany's Aileen Fritsch and Corinna Martini finished second and third, respectively.
Clukey's mark of 40.409 was just .06 of a second from the podium. In the past two seasons, the Augusta, Maine resident had an operation to address Arnold-Chiari Syndrome as well as knee surgery.
Kate Hansen, the 2008 Junior World Champion, also advanced to today's women's event. The La Canada, Calif. resident placed 15th Friday.
Remsen's Erin Hamlin was exempt from qualifying and gives the U.S. three athletes in today's World Cup opener.
The debut of World Cup doubles today will find one U.S. sled in the field. Matt Mortensen, of Huntington Station, and 2006 Olympian Preston Griffall, of Salt Lake City, Utah, also did not have to qualify.
Walker and Snith now own the track record of 40.089 seconds.