Dec 7, 2013, 9:45 AM EDT
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
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