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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IOC gives more time to pick 2030 Olympic host, studies rotating Winter Games

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The 2030 Winter Olympic host, expected to be Salt Lake City or Sapporo, Japan, is no longer targeted to be decided before next fall, the IOC said in announcing wider discussions into the future of the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the Games within a pool of hosts.

The IOC Future Host Commission was granted more time to study factors, including climate change, that could impact which cities and regions host future Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The 2030 Winter Games host is not expected to be decided before or at an IOC session next September or October.

Hosts have traditionally been chosen by IOC members vote seven years before the Games, though recent reforms allow flexibility on the process and timeline. For example, the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles in a historic double award in 2017. The 2032 Summer Games were awarded to Brisbane last year without a traditional bid race.

There are three interested parties for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the IOC said Tuesday without naming them. Previously, Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver were confirmed as bids. Then in October, the British Columbia government said it would not support a Vancouver bid, a major setback, though organizers did not say that decision ended the bid. All three cities are attractive as past Winter Games hosts with existing venues.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials have said Salt Lake City is a likelier candidate for 2034 than 2030, but could step in for 2030 if asked.

The future host commission outlined proposals for future Winter Olympics, which included rotating hosts within a pool of cities or regions and a requirement that hosts have an average minimum temperature below freezing (32 degrees) for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

The IOC Executive Board gave the commission more time to study the proposals and other factors impacting winter sports.

The IOC board also discussed and will continue to explore a potential double awarding of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympic hosts.

Also Tuesday, the IOC board said that Afghanistan participation in the 2024 Olympics will depend on making progress in safe access to sports for women and young girls in the country.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to suspend Afghanistan until women and girls can play sport in the country.

In a press release, the IOC board expressed “serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.” It urged Afghanistan authorities to “take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls.”

The IOC board also announced that North Korea’s National Olympic Committee will be reinstated when its suspension is up at the end of the year.

In September 2021, the IOC banned the North Korean NOC through the end of 2022, including banning a North Korean delegation from participating in the Beijing Winter Games, after it chose not to participate in the Tokyo Games.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March 2021, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC said in September 2021 that it “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

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Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe leaves moguls for another skiing discipline

Justine Dufour-Lapointe
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Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the 2014 Olympic moguls champion, is leaving the event to compete in freeriding, a non-Olympic skiing discipline.

“After three Olympic cycles and 12 years on the World Cup circuit, I felt that I needed to find a new source of motivation and had to push my limits even more so I can reach my full potential as a skier,” the 28-year-old Montreal native said in a social media video, according to a translation from French. “Today, I am starting a new chapter in my career. … I want to perfect myself in another discipline. I want to connect with the mountain differently. Above all, I want to get out of my comfort zone in a way I’ve never done before.”

Dufour-Lapointe said she will compete on the Freeride World Tour, a series of judged competitions described as:

There‘s a start gate at the summit and a finish gate at the bottom. That’s it. Best run down wins. It truly is that simple. Think skiers and snowboarders choosing impossible-looking lines through cornices and cliff-faces and nasty couloirs. Think progressive: big jumps, mach-speed turns and full-on attack. Think entertaining.

Dufour-Lapointe has retired from moguls skiing, according to a Freeride World Tour press release, though she did not explicitly say that in social media posts Tuesday.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Dufour-Lapointe denied American Hannah Kearney‘s bid to become the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion. Older sister Chloé took silver in a Canadian one-two.

Dufour-Lapointe also won the world title in 2015, then Olympic silver in 2018 behind Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont.

Chloé announced her retirement in September. A third Dufour-Lapointe Olympic moguls skier, Maxime, retired in 2018.

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