Mazdzer/Terdiman crash in crucial doubles race
by Sandy Caligiore
SIGULDA, Latvia – The end of the Olympic journey was sudden and unexpected for the United States doubles luge team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman. The top ranked U.S. team, battling for a berth in the upcoming Beijing Winter Games, appeared well on their way to winning Friday’s Nations Cup qualifier on this demanding track in the Baltic region.
To the third timing point on the course, Mazdzer/Terdiman led the field and were well positioned to capture the race-off for what will probably be USA Luge’s lone Olympic doubles slot. But then problems ensued and their sled never made it to the finish.
The DNF eliminated them from Olympic team consideration not only for doubles but the team relay as well. The duo had anchored World Cup silver and bronze medals this season in relay events, including a stellar runner-up finish on the Yanqing Olympic track in November. Their sliding in recent weeks showed steady signs of improvement; their speed and mojo were back despite Mazdzer’s broken foot.
Now the doubles berth is turned over to the young teams of Zack DiGregorio/Sean Hollander as well as Dana Kellogg/Duncan Segger. The former had a remarkable performance Friday in their first week sliding this difficult track together. They placed eighth, 0.5 of a second behind Germany’s experienced winners Robin Geueke and David Gamm. Kellogg/Segger were right behind their teammates in ninth place, 0.6 from the Germans.
Tomorrow afternoon’s doubles World Cup race, the final event for Olympic qualifying, has DiGregorio/Hollander with a leg up. A top five result will secure Tier A status and send that sled to Beijing, pending USOPC official approval. If neither team has completed a tier, then the Nations Cup result acts as the tiebreaker and would send DiGregorio/Hollander back to China for the Winter Olympics.
The U.S. women’s team competing in Beijing next month was finalized in the Nations Cup. Neither Ashley Farquharson nor Brittney Arndt advanced to the World Cup race. Farquharson had locked up Tier B qualification last month, while Arndt needed one more Tier B result.
Farquharson will join Summer Britcher and Emily Sweeney as Team USA nominees. The latter two athletes were exempt from Nations Cup qualifying by virtue of their positions in the A seeded group. Britcher verified her pre-qualification last week with a fifth-place effort and Sweeney grabbed a Tier A result prior to that.
Mazdzer, meanwhile, the defending Olympic silver medalist in singles, is trying to complete a tier Saturday in Sigulda. A top 16 result will get the job done and punch his ticket to Beijing. Mazdzer was 10th in the Nations Cup race here, while Tucker West led the men’s team by placing fourth. Jonny Gustafson took 17th place.
The Beijing Opening Ceremony is 27 days from today.
World Cup race action begins Saturday at 3:10 AM EST with men’s singles followed by doubles. Live streaming will be offered on Olympics.com.