Van Ho records fall in World Cup
US racks up 5 medals; doubles team crashes
LAKE PLACID — The cold air that moved into the Adirondacks over the weekend made for fast ice at the Mount Van Hoevenberg track Saturday and Sunday for the Viessmann Luge World Cup. Track records were set, the U.S. luge team walked away with five medals, and the U.S. doubles sled crashed.
Heading into the second run in sixth place Saturday morning, doubles partners Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman lost control of their sled on Curve 13 in the Labyrinth, a series of four challenging curves right after Shady II. The duo walked away uninjured and were transported to the finish line.
“It’s race day. It’s luge. Anything can happen,” Terdiman said at the finish line. “Chris and I were really going for it the second run, and unfortunately the Labyrinth of this track here in Lake Placid is very tricky. A lot of other athletes have been having issues, you can see today. Unfortunately, it bit us in the butt.”
It was the first time they crashed on Curve 13 as a doubles team, although Mazdzer has crashed there before in the men’s singles event.
“We just hit this magical launch pad at the beginning of Curve 13 and it just flipped us up and in,” Mazdzer said. “A perfect storm of events led to that crash. I wasn’t expecting it until all of a sudden I’m on my face going 60 miles an hour.”
Mazdzer, who grew up in Saranac Lake, and Terdiman, who lives in Lake Placid, had a new sled made specifically for them this season, after using a sled last season made for Terdiman and his former partner Matt Mortensen, who retired in 2018. But the night before Saturday’s race, they decided to use the old sled for the Lake Placid World Cup.
“We’re very happy with that decision that we made,” Terdiman said.
“Yeah, it was the right decision,” Mazdzer added.
Mazdzer said he was nervous about the first run, since they were faced with the fastest, hardest ice conditions they’ve seen all year. Their objective is to use the new sled because it’s more aerodynamic, but it takes a lot of tweaking to get it just right.
“It’s a painful learning process,” said Mazdzer, who has been recovering from injuries. “Man, the hospital visits, lots of missing skin, no broken no bones, no contusions. … I don’t know if I’m stupid for taking more runs or stupid for the fact that I’m not that scared before each run.”
They’ll be heading to Whistler, British Columbia for the World Cup Dec. 13-14 and said they will be using the new sled.
“We’re doing the long game here,” Terdiman said, referring to the next Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. “This is all about February 2022.”
Germany earned the top two podium spots, with gold going to Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt and silver going to Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken. The Austrian team of Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koller took bronze.
Emily Sweeney, of Lake Placid, earned a silver medal for USA Luge Saturday afternoon. She briefly held the track record in the second run before it was beaten by Germany’s Julia Taubitz, who grabbed the gold with a track record second run of 43.658 seconds. The previous record of 43.789 was set by Germany’s Dajana Eitberger last year before Sweeney’s second run of 43.688 Saturday. Russia’s Viktoriia Demchenko won the bronze.
“I’ve been sliding well all fall in the preseason,” Sweeney said in a press release. “With that, doing well you’re always critiquing and criticizing and trying to be better, so I’m happy that I learned from last weekend and capitalized on this one.”
A week after taking home the silver from Igls, Austria, Summer Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, finished fourth in Saturday’s race while Ashley Farquharson, of Park City, Utah, was ninth. Brittney Arndt, also of Park City, did not finish the Nations Cup qualifying run on Friday.
Tucker West, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, set the track record at Mount Van Hoevenberg on Sunday with 50.607 seconds during his first run prior to earning the silver medal. The previous track record was 50.875, set two years ago by Russia’s Roman Repilov, who placed fourth on Sunday.
“Today, we had track record ice. It was bulletproof hard,” West said in a press release. “You really had to lay it all out but it seemed to work out. It feels great to be back. It’s been a little bit of a hiatus with speed, so it’s encouraging to see the speed again.”
West shared the podium with Austria’s Jonas Mueller, gold, and Italy’s Dominik Fischnaller, bronze.
Russia’s Semen Pavilchenko placed fifth and recorded a track start record of 6.300 seconds, beating his own record of 6.357 from two years ago.
Mazdzer — who is competing in doubles and men’s singles for the second season — placed seventh while Jonny Gustafson, of Massena, was 15th.
BMW Sprint World Cup
Out of 15 sleds entered in the women’s race for the BMW Sprint World Cup Sunday afternoon, three U.S. sledders placed in the top four. Britcher took the silver medal while Sweeney got the bronze and Farquharson was fourth. Julia Taubitz of Germany earned the gold.
“We’ve always had a strong (women’s) team at the World Cup level since I’ve been in the program,” Britcher said in a press release. “It feels good to know even if you mess up, you’ve got your team right there and you’re going to have the results. Sitting at the handles, knowing that Ashley was sitting in number one was such a good feeling. I was so proud of her. So excited for my run and so excited to see what Emily could do.”
Out of 15 sleds entered in the men’s singles race for the Sprint World Cup, all U.S. athletes placed in the top seven. West won the silver medal, Mazdzer was fourth and Gustafson was seventh. Russia’s Repilov got the gold and Austria’s Mueller the bronze.
The doubles team of Mazdzer and Terdiman did not qualify for the top 15 sleds in the Sprint World Cup due to their crash on Saturday. The top finishers were Latvia’s Andris and Juris Sics, gold; Germany’s Eggert and Benecken, silver; and Germany’s Wendl and Arlt, bronze.
The following are the overall world rankings for U.S. lugers:
Women: Britcher, second; Sweeney; fourth; Farquharson, eighth; and Arndt, 26th.
Men’s singles: West, fourth; Mazdzer, sixth; and Gustafson, 13th.
Doubles: Mazdzer/Terdiman, 20th.