DiGregorio/Hollander win gold in Lake Placid
by Lauren Howe
LAKE PLACID, N.Y.—For the first time since 2005, the “Star Spangled Banner” was played during a men’s doubles medal ceremony as the American duo of Zack DiGregorio and Sean Hollander secured the 2023 World Cup gold medal at the EBERPAESCHER Luge World Cup in Lake Placid.
Today’s race also provided the opportunity for USA Luge fans to celebrate 2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer, who recently announced his retirement following a 22-year career of competing internationally in the sport.
2022 Olympians DiGregorio (Medway, Mass.) and Hollander (Lake Placid, N.Y.) crossed the finish line with a time of one minute 27.630 seconds, earning them the gold medal. This is the first time in 18 years that Team USA topped the podium doubles, which was last won by three-time World Cup overall winners Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin.
“It feels awesome,” said Hollander. “We were really feeling the support of everyone here so there was a lot of energy going around and we are happy with how we did. We are just looking forward to the anthem and bringing home the medal.”
“I can’t get the smile off of my face right now,” said DiGregorio. “We haven’t heard our anthem in a while, so let’s get it going!”
DiGregorio/Hollander were joined on the podium with the Austrian teams of Thomas Steu and Wolfgang Kindl who took silver in 1:27.682, with Thomas Gatt and Martin Schoepf in third with a time of 1:27.702.
The American team of Dana Kellogg and Frank Ike placed in the top 10 with a time of 1:28.482. This was the World Cup debut for the new team of Kellogg (Chesterfield, Mass.) and Ike (Lititz, Pa.), who placed tenth and secured a spot in tomorrow’s sprint race with DiGregorio/Hollander.
While the crowd was still on their feet following the men’s doubles race, it was the men’s singles race that kept them standing as Mazdzer (Salt Lake City, Utah) joined teammates for one of the final runs of his career. Mazdzer planned to make today’s race his final competitive run, but a 12th place finish with a time of 1:43.358 means he earned a spot to race for a final time during the December 9 sprint race.
“We are all a part of each other’s success,” said Mazdzer. “We are teammates, and we are helping each other out. Even though we are racing against one another, we want the best for each other, and I think that’s why I think you are going to see Team USA rising right now.”
Three-time Olympian Tucker West just missed the podium by three-thousandths of a second separating him from the bronze medal. West (Ridgefield, Conn.) finished in fourth with a time of 1:42.588, while Austria’s Nico Gleirscher took bronze in 1:42.585. Winning the gold was Max Langenhan of Germany with a time of 1:41.952, and Austria’s Jonas Mueller taking silver in 1:42.398.
West’s teammate, 2022 Olympian Jonny Gustafson (Messina, N.Y.) had a great second run and followed West in the standings, placing fifth with a time of 1:42.703, while Hunter Harris completed his first World Cup race placing 15th in 1:43.645. West, Gustafson, and Harris will join Mazdzer during tomorrow’s sprint race.
USA Luge women’s doubles just missed the podium as 2022 Winterberg, Germany World Championships bronze medalists Chevonne Forgan (Chelmsford, Mass.) and Sophie Kirkby (Ray Brook, Pa.) placed fourth in 1:29.574. Teammates Maya Chan (Chicago, Ill.) and Reanynn Weiler (Whitesboro, N.Y.) placed sixth with a time of 1:30.014. Both teams will compete in the sprint race.
Austria’s Selina Egle and Lara Kipp took first place in 1:28.924, followed by Germany’s Dajana Eitberger and Saskia Schirmer in second with a time of 1:29.037, and Andrea Voetter and Marion Oberhofer from Italy earned bronze in 1:29.470.
The 2023-2024 World Cup in Lake Placid continues tomorrow, December 9.