Terdiman ready for round two
LAKE PLACID — An unusual arrangement emerged on the USA Luge team last season, as Olympic silver medal-winning solo slider Chris Mazdzer joined Jayson Terdiman on the doubles sled.
It turned out to be a winning combination as the pair reached the podium at Mount Van Hoevenberg, and Terdiman says with a new sled and another year of experience, he’s hoping for an even better season this year.
Terdiman, who lives and trains in Lake Placid, said the pair was recently in Europe getting fitted for a new sled, and sees nothing but bright spots for the coming World Cup season, which begins in November.
“We’re going to keep going,” the 31-year-old said. “Chris and I were just in Slovakia a week and a half ago, building a new sled with our coaching staff out there. We’re very excited, hopefully this sled will bring us a little bit more oomph that we need.
“We competed on a sled last year that was definitely way too small. Chris is a very large athlete, and the sled was built for myself and Matt Mortensen. And Matt was a big guy too, but not as big as Chris. So we hopefully took care of a lot of inconsistencies that we were feeling and were dealing with last season.”
Terdiman used to partner with Mortensen, and the pair competed in both the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics. After Mortensen retired in the summer of 2018, Terdiman was left without a partner.
Luge competitions typically include four races: men’s, women’s, doubles and the relay, where the three disciplines follow each other down the track. With no doubles team, the U.S. couldn’t compete in the relay until Mazdzer and Terdiman joined forces. Mazdzer, who is from Saranac Lake, continued to race singles last year as well.
Although much of Mazdzer’s career was as a singles slider, he and Terdiman used to race as a doubles pair when they were younger.
“Chris had shoulder surgery in February, and he’s feeling ahead of schedule on his recovery but he’s still taking it easy because it’s a full six-month road for him to come back,” Terdiman said. “But it’s exciting. We had 10 years apart (and our) first year together, back on a podium.
“I don’t like to get too excited, but we’re in a good spot. It’s another learning year, so there’s no pressure on us to perform, which is great. It allows us to, stress-free, re-learn sliding together and we’ll be learning again because this sled will be totally different. But we have a lot of promise.
“If our history when we were juniors shows us anything, the people we’re competing against now are the people we were competing against then. And we can find our way back to the top. “I’ll take any flavor (of Olympic medal),” Terdiman continued. “I look at my job as, Chris already has a singles medal, it’s my job to get Chris on a doubles podium and hopefully make him the first person in history to be on all three podiums in the Olympics: singles, doubles and team.
“So I have the opportunity to help him accomplish that (and) I’m stoked to be able to work with him and for him to do that. If he wins a medal, I win a medal. He has real opportunity to do something no one has ever done before, and that’s a real cool opportunity for me. And I’m looking forward to putting the hard work over the next three years to get us to that point.”
Although Mazdzer can only do the relay as part of the doubles team, Terdiman said the team as a whole is in a good spot. The relay involves a single luger going down the track and hitting a switch at the finish line. Once the switch is hit, the second racer goes down and hits the switch again so the doubles team can complete the race.
“What’s great about the relay for our team is we have the number one and number two fastest reaction starters in the world,” Terdiman said. “Chris had a first-place reaction at the Olympics, but we didn’t even use Tucker (West), and Tucker has an even faster reaction than Chris. So what’s happening, is we’re getting Tucker’s reaction in the relay, and then we’re getting Chris’ reaction in the relay. So number one and number two in the world both on the same relay team. It really helps us close that gap on that German powerhouse.
“So if the Olympics taught us anything, we all have to have good runs. It just comes down to that day and that team, and there’s no doubt that we have an incredible amount of potential as a full team. There’s potential for the U.S. to be on the podium with any set of athletes on our team.”
Mazdzer and Terdiman finished in second place at last year’s World Cup in Lake Placid. Mazdzer was fourth in the singles race the day before, while Summer Britcher earned a silver medal in the women’s race last year.
The U.S. luge national team was recently named for the 2019-2020 World Cup season, and largely kept together last year’s squad. In addition to Mazdzer and Terdiman, Johnny Gustafson and West will represent the men, while Emily Sweeney, Britcher, Raychel Germain and Brittney Arndt make up the women’s squad.
The luge World Cup starts on Nov. 23 in Innsbruck, Austria, and will then travel to Lake Placid’s Mount Van Hoevenberg for two days of sliding over Thanksgiving weekend.