LAKE PLACID, New York — Zach DiGregorio and Sean Hollander gave the US its first luge World Cup doubles gold medal in nearly 18 years, winning the opening race of the season at Mount Van Hoevenberg.
DiGregorio and Hollander had the second-fastest time in both heats and finished in 1 minute, 27.630 seconds. That was 0.052 seconds better than the Austrian sled of Thomas Steu and Wolfgang Kindl, who had the lead after Run 1 but had just the seventh-best time in the second heat.
It was the first win for a US sled in the last 184 World Cup men’s doubles races, going back to Dec. 9, 2005 – when Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin got the last of their 11 World Cup wins.
The World Cup luge circuit is in Lake Placid for the first time since 2009. Chris Mazdzer, the 2018 Olympic men’s silver medallist for the US, will take the final run of his career in the men’s sprint race.
Chris Mazdzer, meanwhile, has decided to end his luge career, after four trips to the Olympics and becoming the first men’s singles slider to medal there for the United States.
The 35-year-old Mazdzer compete in his final World Cup race in his home track just a few miles away from his hometown of Saranac Lake.
It will end a career where he spent nearly two decades on luge’s top circuit, winning 24 World Cup medals along the way.
“After 25 incredible years of hurtling myself down icy chutes in a spandex suit, I realize that every adrenaline-packed career eventually comes to an end,” Mazdzer wrote in his retirement announcement, which was released recently.
“As I hang up my sled and look back at my luge journey, it’s clear that this sport has been the greatest teacher in my life, shaping me in ways I never thought possible.”
He was the face of luge in the US for many years, his stardom soaring after winning the silver medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics — the first for a USA Luge men’s singles athlete and just the second singles medal in federation history after Erin Hamlin won her bronze at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Mazdzer competed on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2018, making it to the next-to-last show and finishing ahead of other athletes including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Johnny Damon.
“Chris began sliding with USA Luge when he was 8 years old and over the years his commitment to the sport has been unwavering,” USA Luge CEO Jim Leahy said according to AP.
“Following the 2018 Games, Chris’ success helped raise awareness of the sport across the country. While we will miss Chris as a dedicated athlete, we are grateful for his many successful years and wish him all the best in his next endeavor.”
Mazdzer and his wife Mara have one child and are expecting a second next spring. The seven-time national champion has also dealt with numerous injuries in recent years, and even competed with a broken foot to make the 2022 Olympic team.
“Reflecting on my career, I hope I achieved my two goals: leaving the sport better than I found it and increasing awareness of luge in the United States,” Mazdzer said.
“While I can’t objectively answer those questions, I feel a sense of accomplishment in these endeavors,” Mazdzer added.