Park City • Chris Mazdzer pumped his left hand, which was balled up into a tight fist, while clutching his trusty sled under his left arm. He began the chant fans at the bottom of the Utah Olympic Park kept waiting to do.
With each pump of his fist, Mazdzer shouted, "USA! USA! USA!"
World Cup luge
O Utah Olympic Park
1. Armin Zoggeler, Italy, 1:30.599
2. Chris Mazdzer, USA, 1:30.839
3. Wolfgang Kindl, Austria, 1:30.923
4. Dominik Fischnaller, Italy, 1:30.933
5. Felix Loch, Germany, 1:30.940
6. David Moller, Germany, 1:31.022
7. Thor Haug Norbech, Norway, 1:31.173
8. Samuel Edney, Canada, 1:31.314
9. Daniel Pfister, Austria, 1:31.334
10. Johannes Ludwig, Germany, 1:31.511
16. Tucker West, USA, 1:31.735
20. Taylor Morris, USA, 1:32.036
27. Joe Mortensen, USA, 1:32.682
The Saranac Lake, N.Y., native just had soared down the Olympic track in Park City with one of the best runs of his career and momentarily sat in first place, a gold medal in sight. But even after 39-year-old Olympic luge legend Armin Zoggeler, the Italian gold medalist in the 2002 Utah Olympic Winter Games, supplanted Mazdzer in the top spot, the American kept the cheer going.
"I found a good spot where I’m in control, but yet I’m on the edge," Mazdzer said. "Hopefully I will keep this going into Sochi."
Mazdzer, an Olympian in 2010 in Vancouver, earned a silver medal in a World Cup for the second week in a row, this time a second-place finish in Saturday’s Viessmann Luge World Cup.
Having already cemented his spot as the top American heading to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, in February, Mazdzer let it fly a week after earning a World Cup silver at Whistler in British Columbia.
"I guess I really love the North American tracks because this has never happened before, and I’m just on such a huge high right now," he said. "It’s so amazing."
USA luge program director and coach Mark Grimmette said once he saw Mazdzer wiggle through the tricky combination of turns near the top of the course on his second run at the Olympic Park, he had a pretty good feeling about Mazdzer’s time, a second-place finish of 1 minute, 30.839 seconds.
Appointed head of the program after Vancouver, Grimmette, the former two-time Olympic medalist said the culmination of the years, races and endless hours of training have led to the team’s success in recent weeks.
"There’s a lot of different elements of the program that we’ve been putting together over the past four years, and that’s all starting to come together this season," he said.
Mazdzer, who was considered one of the younger athletes in Vancouver in 2010, finished 13th in the Games nearly four years ago. Now the 25-year-old considers himself an elder statesman. He’ll be flanked by youngsters Tucker West (18) and Aidan Kelly (19) in Sochi.
"The past four years haven’t been the greatest for us, but we’re moving forward really fast right now," Mazdzer said.
West and Kelly beat out South Jordan native Taylor Morris to be part of the singles luge team in Sochi. The 22-year-old Morris needed a top-14 finish Saturday for a chance to qualify, but he finished 20th overall among 32 athletes.
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