U.S. Olympic luge team set; Chris Mazdzer barely makes singles, misses doubles

50th FIL World Championships 2021 Luge - Day 1
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The U.S. Olympic luge roster is set. Its biggest star had to wait to learn he made the team, and in one fewer event than he hoped.

Chris Mazdzer, who in 2018 won the first U.S. Olympic men’s singles medal (silver), squeaked in as the third and final American and in one of the last spots in the overall field. He’s joined by Tucker West and Jonny Gustafson.

The women’s singles team: the previously qualified Summer Britcher, plus Emily Sweeney and Ashley Farquharson.

The U.S.’ lone doubles spot is where drama played out over the weekend. In a stunner, Zach Di Gregorio, 20, and Sean Hollander, 21, are heading to their first Olympics, securing their spot Saturday.

Mazdzer’s bid to compete in doubles in addition to singles was dashed when he and partner Jayson Terdiman crashed in a World Cup qualifying race on Friday.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for 2022 Olympics

Though Mazdzer and Terdiman are the highest-ranked American doubles team (16th in the world), this past week’s event in Sigulda, Latvia, became a race-off for the Olympic spot because no team achieved strong enough World Cup results this season to stand out.

Mazdzer and Terdiman were oh-so close to clinching an Olympic spot by their World Cup results earlier this season. They needed a top-10 finish and two top-13 finishes on the World Cup. Mazdzer and Terdiman have one 11th-place finish — missing 10th place in that race by .139 of a second — and two 13th-place finishes.

Mazdzer and Terdiman were leading Friday’s race-off at a late split when they crashed, instantly and cruelly ending their Olympic hopes.

“What pains me deep down is that the results from the season show that Jayson and I were the best doubles team to represent the US,” was posted on Mazdzer’s social media. “I promise that I gave 100%, I know that Jayson did too. I need to state that I am not trying to diminish anything the other doubles team did this season as they were also working incredibly hard.

“It just absolutely devastates me that this is how it ended. One run, we were winning… and now Jayson’s and my Olympic dream in doubles is over.”

Terdiman, 33, announced last month that he planned to retire after the Beijing Olympics. He competed in the last two Olympics with two different doubles partners, with top finishes of 10th in doubles and fourth in the team relay, both in 2018.

In 2018, Mazdzer entered the Olympics ranked 18th in the world in singles and without a World Cup podium in two years. He came away with a stunning silver medal.

Mazdzer, 33, is now ranked 23rd in the world in singles during a tough season as the only World Cup luger racing both singles and doubles. He dealt with shattered toes and as of last week still couldn’t walk normally.

Britcher is the highest ranked U.S. luger among the three disciplines (11th in the world) and the lone U.S. luger to earn a World Cup podium in the last two seasons outside of the team relay.

American lugers were hurt by there being no World Cups on North American tracks the last two seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mazdzer is leaning toward retirement after this season, though has not made a final decision and could return for a potential farewell if there is at least one race in North America next season.

Germans Johannes Ludwig and Julia Taubitz lead the men’s and women’s World Cup standings, making them Olympic favorites. In doubles, Latvian brothers Andris Šics and Juris Šics are in the top spot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Shoma Uno leads Ilia Malinin at figure skating worlds; Japan wins first pairs’ title


Defending champion Shoma Uno of Japan bettered American Ilia Malinin in the world figure skating championships short program.

Malinin, 18, plans one of, if not the most difficult free skate in history on Saturday in a bid to overtake Uno to become the youngest world champion in 25 years.

Uno, who has reportedly dealt with an ankle injury, skated clean Thursday save doubling the back end of a planned quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination. He totaled 104.63 points, overtaking Malinin by 4.25 on home ice in Saitama.

“I was able to do better jumps compared to my practice in my short program today, and even if I am not in my best condition, I want to focus on other details other than my jumps as well,” Uno said, according to the International Skating Union.

Malinin, who this season landed the first quadruple Axel in competition, had a clean short after struggling with the program all autumn. He landed a quadruple Lutz-triple toe combo, a quad toe and a triple Axel. Uno beat him on artistic component scores.

“I was really in the moment,” said Malinin, who plans a record-tying six quads in Saturday’s free skate after attempting five at previous competitions this season. “I was really feeling my performance out there.”

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

The quad Axel is not allowed in the short program, but expect Malinin to include it in the free, and he likely needs it to beat Uno.

Malinin has been a force in skating, starting with his breakout silver-medal finish at the January 2022 U.S. Championships. He was left off last year’s Olympic team due to his inexperience, then won the world junior title last spring.

He entered these senior worlds ranked second in the field behind Uno, yet outside the top 15 in the world in the short program this season. After a comfortable win at January’s national championships, he can become the youngest men’s world champion since Russian Alexei Yagudin in 1998.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Jason Brown placed sixth with a clean short in his first full international competition since last year’s Olympics.

The third American, Andrew Torgashev, fell on his opening quad toe loop and ended up 22nd in his worlds debut.

Olympic gold medalist Nathan Chen has not skated this season, going back to Yale, and is not expected to return to competition. Silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama of Japan has been out with left leg and ankle bone injuries. Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu retired.

Earlier Thursday, Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won Japan’s first pairs’ world title, dethroning Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, who last year became the first Americans to win a pairs’ world title since 1979.

More on the pairs’ event here.

Worlds continue Thursday night (U.S. time) with the rhythm dance, followed Friday morning with the women’s free skate, live on Peacock and USA Network.

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2023 World Figure Skating Championships results


2023 World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, top 10 and notable results …

Women (Short Program)
1. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) — 79.24
2. Lee Hae-In (KOR) — 73.62
3. Mai Mihara (JPN) — 73.46
4. Isabeau Levito (USA) — 73.03
5. Loena Hendrickx (BEL) — 71.94
6. Niina Petrokina (EST) — 68.00
7. Nicole Schott (GER) — 67.29
8. Bradie Tennell (USA) — 66.45
9. Ekaterina Kurakova (POL) — 65.69
10. Amber Glenn (USA) — 65.52


Men (Short Program)
1. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 104.63
2. Ilia Malinin (USA) — 100.38
3. Cha Jun-Hwan (KOR) — 99.64
4. Keegan Messing (CAN) — 98.75
5. Kevin Aymoz (FRA) — 95.56
6. Jason Brown (USA) — 94.17
7. Kazuki Tomono (JPN) — 92.68
8. Daniel Grassl (ITA) — 86.50
9. Lukas Britschgi (SUI) — 86.18
10. Vladimir Litvintsev (AZE) — 82.71
17. Sota Yamamoto (JPN) — 75.48
22. Andrew Torgashev (USA) — 71.41

Gold: Riku Miura/Ryuichi Kihara (JPN) — 222.16
Silver: Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 217.48
Bronze: Sara Conti/Niccolo Macii (ITA) — 208.08
4. Deanna Stellato-Dudek/Maxime Deschamps (CAN) — 199.97
5. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe (USA) — 194.73
6. Lia Pereira/Trennt Michaud (CAN) — 193.00
7. Maria Pavlova/Alexei Sviatchenko (HUN) — 190.67
8. Anastasia Golubova/Hektor Giotopoulos Moore (AUS) — 189.47
9. Annika Hocke/Robert Kunkel (GER) — 184.60
10. Alisa Efimova/Ruben Blommaert (GER) — 184.46
12. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea (USA) — 175.59

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