Gustafson ties season’s best, Mazdzer finishes in 18th

On the penultimate day of the Eberspacher World Cup luge season, first-time Olympic nominee Jonny Gustafson tied his season’s best with a 14th place effort on the long, natural ice track in glitzy St. Moritz, Switzerland on Saturday.

The Massena native was the top-ranked American man on the season in 20th place overall.

2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer, nominated to his fourth Olympic team, finished 18th in the last men’s singles event of the World Cup season.

The unforgettable course begins on the edge of the village and concludes over 1,700 meters later in Celerina.

Much of its charm stems from the fact that it is hand-hewn each season with ice trucked to the site from nearby Lake St. Moritz. As a result, it is never exactly the same, but always greatly anticipated by all sliding athletes. St. Moritz offers the oldest track in the world, dating back to 1904. It may also have the scariest beginning with the Dracula start house.

Temperatures were in the 20s on an overcast day, perfect for the preferred resort destination of the planet’s kings, queens and sheiks. The movers and shakers of this sliding sport enjoyed these conditions, too, after last year’s snowstorm.

Gustafson’s two individual heats were 14th and 11th best, respectively. Mazdzer, meanwhile, has been taking care of a sore neck recently and is getting himself completely healthy for the men’s Olympic race starting two weeks from today in Yanqing, China. Tucker West did not qualify in Friday’s Nations Cup.

Mazdzer’s final rank on the World Cup this season was 22nd, while West was 23rd.

The St. Moritz program began with the final doubles race of the season. USA Luge literally had no skin in the game.

The doubles team of Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman, after training and competing together for four years, were eliminated from Olympic consideration in the race-off two weeks ago.

The team of Dana Kellogg/Duncan Segger, likewise, were beaten for the lone Olympic berth by Zack DiGregorio and Sean Hollander. Kellogg and Segger returned to Lake Placid to continue training.

Instead of competing in Oberhof and St. Moritz, the newest doubles team, DiGregorio/Hollander, were dispatched to Park City, Utah for two weeks of additional training on Terdiman’s sled. The idea was to get them more prepared and comfortable on their teammate’s equipment. The athletes received many more runs in Utah than the seven trips per week they would have been afforded on the international circuit.

DiGregorio/Hollander were helped at the Utah Olympic Park by head coach Robert Fegg, as well as Terdiman and local national team singles slider Brittney Arndt, who narrowly missed qualifying for Beijing.

The entire collaboration was designed to give the young doubles team — they only came together in the summer of 2020 — the best opportunity to succeed in Beijing.

Completing the team’s family approach to success, Arndt’s father, Jesse Arndt, who is a club slider through the Wasatch Luge Club, recently completed the Beijing paint job of the DiGregorio/Hollander/Terdiman missile.

“This has been a great Olympic preparation,” remarked Fegg. “The sled has worked out great, with all changes bang on. They have been sliding very consistent with good speed. Their times have been very favorable compared to Britt, and the track crew bent over backwards to give us what we needed.

“I think as we leave here, we have done everything possible to give them the chance to perform well in Yanqing,” he added.

The doubles team, along with Fegg, will join the remainder of the Olympic team in the coming days for the final journey to the Olympic Winter Games. The Opening Ceremony will take place on Feb. 4 in China, Feb. 3 in the United States.


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