Mazdzer returns to the ice in Lillehammer
LAKE PLACID — Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer will lead the USA Luge National Team back to the ice for fall training on Oct. 1 when the group opens its preseason campaign in Lillehammer, Norway. It’s the start of a seven-week run to the opening of the Viessmann World Cup season in Igls, Austria on Nov. 24-25.
Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, but now training in Salt Lake City, emerged from an exciting men’s race in the Pyeongchang Olympics to secure the first men’s Olympic singles medal in American history. He parlayed that achievement into selection for ABC Television’s Dancing With The Stars, where he competed for three of the four weeks with professional dancer Witney Carson.
The three-time Olympian will be joined in Lillehammer by Tucker West, of Ridgefield, Connecticut. A member of the 2014 and 2018 Olympic squads, West has three World Cup wins to his credit and is recognized as one of the fastest starters in the world.
Jonny Gustafson, of Massena, rounds out the men’s team. Gustafson, similarly a strong starter, enters his third World Cup season as he strives to gain valuable knowledge of the different tracks around the world.
The USA Luge women’s team is headlined by Summer Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania. Britcher, another two-time Olympian, has five career World Cup gold medals, tops in U.S. singles. She set the Pyeongchang track record at the Games in February. USA Luge head coach Bill Tavares has confirmed that Britcher will compete in the men’s field of the Lillehammer Cup exhibition race on Oct. 7.
Emily Sweeney, of Suffield, Connecticut, a member of Team USA in 2018 and a World Cup winner last season, will see some ice time in Lillehammer as she seeks to gradually work her way into the lineup in advance of Igls.
Raychel Germaine, of Roswell, Georgia, and Brittney Arndt, of Park City, Utah, were both in the Olympic mix one year ago. They will be on the Norwegian track that hosted the 1994 Olympic events. Grace Weinberg, of Pittsfield, Vermont, completes the five-woman U.S. group in Norway. Later in the fall, a race-off will determine who among the three sliders will compete in the fall World Cup.
For the first time in some 15 years, fall training will not include Erin Hamlin. The Remsen, who won a 2014 Olympic bronze medal and led the U.S. Olympic Team into the Pyeongchang opening ceremony as flag bearer, has retired. In recent months, she married Jon Hodge. She is splitting her time between Minnesota and New York. Currently, Hamlin is training for the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4, where she will represent and raise funds for the Women’s Sports Foundation.
In addition to Hamlin, other U.S. retirements include two-time doubles Olympian Matt Mortensen, of Huntington Station. Mortensen’s sled mate the past four years, Jayson Terdiman, of Berwick, Pennsylvania, also a two-time Olympian, remains an active athlete.
Other retirements are the doubles team of 2018 Olympians Justin Krewson, of Eastport, and Andrew Sherk, of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, and Jake Hyrns, of Muskegon, Michgan, and Anthony Espinoza, of Park City. As the result, USA Luge will have no doubles teams in Lillehammer.
Singles competitor Taylor Morris, of South Jordan, Utah, also ended his career after the Winter Games in South Korea.
After Igls, the World Cup tour will feature two stops in Canada before coming to Lake Placid on Dec. 15-16. The 2019 portion of the schedule will include five World Cup events and the World Championships in Winterberg, Germany.
Expect to see extensive coverage of the 2018-2019 Viessmann FIL Luge World Cup on NBC Sports Network and the Olympic Channel. That schedule will be announced before the start of the competitive season.