Chris Mazdzer

Chris Mazdzer wins silver at Whistler luge World Cup

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USA Luge put a men’s singles slider on a World Cup podium for the first time in nearly seven years on Friday night.

2010 Olympian Chris Mazdzer placed a career-best second in Whistler, B.C., the fourth of nine World Cup stops before the Sochi Olympics in February.

Mazdzer was fourth after the first of two runs, behind a trio from dominant Germany, but was third fastest overall in the second run to jump two spots. German Olympic and world champion Felix Loch won in 1 minute, 36.686 seconds. Mazdzer clocked 1:36.978, edging Italy’s Dominik Fischnaller for silver by .003.

“It came down to the wire,” said Mazdzer, 25, who has already been nominated to the U.S. Olympic Team. “It was pretty awesome. It was definitely a high-risk, high-reward run. Ice is so hard here right now. I was really on edge. It was a pretty sketchy run, but I kept it going straight most of the time. Like a bowling ball going down the track, but I held on.”

The Saranac Lake, N.Y., native could have been even faster. A right shoulder problem affected his start technique. which showed in split times. He had the 13th and 14th fastest starts in each run.

The last U.S. men’s slider to win a World Cup medal was Tony Benshoof in January 2007 (bronze). The last U.S. men’s slider to win a World Cup race was Wendel Suckow on Feb. 15, 1997.

“It’s taken an entire career to really push through and not play safe,” Mazdzer said, before being whisked off to drug testing.

No U.S. singles slider — man or woman — has won an Olympic medal. The Germans swept the medals at the World Championships last winter. Two Germans lead the World Cup standings, but Mazdzer moved up to fifth.

He could be considered an Olympic medal contender with more strong World Cup results beginning in Park City, Utah, next weekend.

“Well, it only shows that the Germans can be defeated,” Mazdzer said of his silver. “It’s just that everything has to work out just right.”

Whistler Men’s Singles
1. Felix Loch (GER) 1:36.686
2. Chris Mazdzer (USA) 1:36.978
3. Dominik Fischnaller (ITA) 1:36.981
11. Tucker West (USA) 1:37.368
17. Taylor Morris (USA) 1:37.656
21. Aidan Kelly (USA) 1:37.901

U.S. Olympic Team roster so far

Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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Conseslus Kipruto tests positive for coronavirus, canceling world-record bid

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Conseslus Kipruto, the Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion, tested positive for the coronavirus without symptoms, which will keep him from a world-record chase on Friday, according to his social media.

The Kenyan was to race in the first in-person Diamond League meet of the year in Monaco on Friday.

“Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities,” was posted. “Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League.

“I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well.”

Kipruto, 25, is the 14th-fastest steepler in history with a personal best of 8:00.12. The world record is 7:53.63, set by Kenyan-born Qatari Saif Saaeed Shaheen in 2004.

Last year, Kipruto won the world title by .01, extending a streak of a Kenyan or Kenyan-born man winning every Olympic or world title in the event since the 1988 Seoul Games. He was sidelined by a stress fracture in his left foot until opening his season extremely late on Aug. 24.

MORE: Trayvon Bromell’s road back through destruction, death

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Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities. Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League on August 14th. I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well. Wish to thank Monaco for all the work they have done and I wish them and my colleagues a wonderful competition. Athletics is back and I will be back as well. Anyone willing to organise a steeple once I can be cleared? @diamondleaguemonaco #nike #quarantine #WR #Kenya

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