Chris Mazdzer

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Summer Britcher takes second in luge World Cup opener

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The wide-open World Cup women’s luge season started Saturday with the unusual sight of no German sliders in the top two and a massive shakeup in the standings between the two runs.

Russia’s Tatyana Ivanova came back from 13th place in the first run to win by 0.110 seconds ahead of U.S. slider Summer Britcher, who has been third in the last two World Cup seasons.

Ivanova shaved nearly a half-second off her first-run time, improving from 40.875 to 40.429. Britcher was more consistent — fourth in the first run (40.693) and eighth in the second (40.721).

First-run leader Lisa Schulte of Austria tumbled from first down to sixth. U.S. rookie Ashley Farquharson, fourth in last year’s world junior championships, was third in her first World Cup run but finished 25th in her second to take 15th overall.

Brittney Arndt, who made her World Cup debut last year, was 13th. World bronze medalist Emily Sweeney, who won the Nations Cup race Friday, had a rough first run to stand 27th before rallying to 24th overall.

German sliders have won the last 21 World Cup women’s titles. But the team is competing this year without Natalie Geisenberger, who has won the last two Olympic women’s gold medals and the last seven World Cups. Geisenberger is pregnant, as is teammate Dajana Eitberger. Five-time World Cup champion Tatjana Huefner has retired.

READ: Geisenberger and teammates out this season

On Saturday, two German sliders tied for third — World Cup runner-up Julia Taubitz and Jessica Tiebel.

The doubles race had a Polish pair, Wojciech Chmielewski and Jakub Kowalewski, in first place after the first run, but they struggled in the second and left a familiar set of German pairs atop the standings Toni Eggert and
Sascha Benecken first, just 0.009 seconds ahead of longtime rivals Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt. The American sled of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman finished 17th.

Mazdzer, the Olympic silver medalist, will also compete in the men’s race on Sunday.

OlympicChannel.com will have live streaming of the men’s runs at 4 a.m. and 5:35 a.m. ET, then the team relay at 7:40 a.m. Highlights will be on NBCSN at 4:30 p.m. and the Olympic Channel at 5:30 p.m.

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Emily Sweeney posts fastest time in qualifier for luge World Cup opener

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World championship bronze medalist Emily Sweeney placed first in the Nations Cup luge race Friday in Innsbruck, Austria, qualifying with ease for the first World Cup event of the season.

Twelve women, including fellow American Summer Britcher, were seeded directly into the World Cup race. Sweeney, Brittney Arndt and Ashley Farquharson all qualified from the Nations Cup race. Britcher has finished third in the overall World Cup standings for two straight years and is a contender in a wide-open year with seven-time defending champion Natalie Geisenberger taking a year off while pregnant.

MORE: Geisenberg will not race in 2019-20

In the men’s competition, Jonny Gustafson and Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer finished third and fifth in the Nations Cup race to advance. Tucker West claimed the second-to-last qualifying spot to get all three U.S. sliders in Sunday’s World Cup race.

Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman qualified for the doubles competition, ensuring all eight U.S. sliders will see the weekend races.

OlympicChannel.com will have live streaming this weekend (all times ET):

  • Women: Saturday, 4:15 a.m. and 5:40 a.m.
  • Doubles: Saturday, 7:05 a.m. and 8:25 a.m.
  • Men: Sunday, 4 a.m. and 5:35 a.m.
  • Team relay: Sunday, 7:40 a.m.

Highlights will be on television at the following times:

  • Saturday: Olympic Channel, 5:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Olympic Channel, 5:30 p.m.
  • Sunday: NBCSN, 4:30 p.m.

Next weekend, the World Cup series heads to Lake Placid, N.Y.

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Chris Mazdzer adds doubles luge after Olympic medal

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Olympic luge silver medalist Chris Mazdzer is doubling up this winter.

Mazdzer has decided to compete in both singles and doubles in World Cup events, in large part because USA Luge didn’t have another option to partner with Olympic doubles veteran Jayson Terdiman.

If the Americans didn���t have a senior doubles team ready for the World Cup, they wouldn’t have been able to compete in team relays this winter — and Terdiman effectively would have been forced into retirement.

“It’s a lot of motivation,” Mazdzer said Monday from Lake Placid, New York, where he and Terdiman took five training runs together at Mount Van Hoevenberg on the season’s opening day for sliding at USA Luge’s home track. “I like when people are like, ‘Chris, you won’t be able to do that.’ This hasn’t been done successfully in two-plus decades. But why not now?”

The move also brings Mazdzer back to his roots. He and Terdiman were successful as a junior team, medaling twice at world championships and winning USA Luge’s team-of-the-year honors for the 2007-08 season.

“It could be something,” Terdiman said. “We’re hoping we’re able to find that magic. It’s asking a lot, but we have a lot of confidence in our own abilities.”

Mazdzer became the first American men’s singles luge athlete to win an Olympic medal, grabbing the silver at the PyeongChang Games earlier this year. Terdiman is a two-time Olympian in doubles, going in 2014 with Christian Niccum and this year with Matt Mortensen. Niccum retired after the 2014 Olympics, and Mortensen retired after PyeongChang.

So Terdiman spent the summer without a partner, and a couple of hours before former USA Luge teammate Megan Sweeney’s wedding, he and Mazdzer got together for coffee.

“I thought about retirement a lot this summer,” Terdiman said. “It was going to be forced if I didn’t have anybody to slide with, and that was a very real thing until Chris and I sat down a couple hours before Megan’s wedding. We talked about him doing both. The confidence he has in himself is very large. He’s going to give it a shot and we’ll see what happens.”

Mazdzer understands that this means he will have a most unusual winter.

There are nine World Cup races this season, and six of those call for the men’s race and the doubles race to be contested on the same day — so Mazdzer will be logging very long hours at the track. There also were International Luge Federation rules to consider about training runs; sliders typically get five or six runs at a track before a World Cup, and Mazdzer will be permitted to get the full allotment of training in both disciplines.

“I’m really pumped about this,” Mazdzer said. “Having the team relay is a huge part of being on the U.S. team. I want to see the U.S. win team relays. I think we’re capable. We have a fantastic team and if doubles works out, we’ve got a shot.”

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