Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
Sports | By Brandy Patterson

West finishes 26th in Olympic luge; teammate wins silver

West finishes 26th in Olympic luge; teammate wins silver

Chris Mazdzer just did what no American man has ever done. But in 12 of the previous 14 Olympic men's luge competitions, the leader after two runs has gone on to win the gold medal.

Mazdzer, a three-time Olympian who finished 13 at the last Olympics, wore his lucky No. 13 and was in fifth place after his first run and fourth after his second run, when he set a track record of 47.534 seconds.

Competing in his third Olympics, Mazdzer, 29, followed up two impressive runs on Saturday with an even better performance on Sunday. Germany's Felix Loch faltered on his final run, allowing Austria's David Gleirscher to move from second into first place and Chris Mazdzer from fourth to second.

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"One very bad run but that's sport", said Loch, who was consoled by IOC President and luge fan Thomas Bach at the venue. And in seven of the last eight games, the people who were first and second after two heats remained in that exact order in the final standings. "We like bronze, we like silver". Mazdzer is looking to change all that. Frustrated, he went to fellow competitors looking for a solution, and based on what he learned from them, he chose to rebuild his sled late in the World Cup season. "It's getting colder", Mazdzer said.

Loch became only the third luger in history to not win the Olympic gold medal when leading at the halfway point. "Training wheels are off. My family, friends are here, and it feels like I'm at home right now".

"But it's tough because you give your entire life for luge and when you don't do well - if you're not at the top you get nothing", he added.

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Any medal finish would be a huge accomplishment for Mazdzer, whose best finish in the recent World Cup was sixth place despite being ranked No. 3 in the world during the 2015-2016 season. But he wasn't the least bit surprised to be in a contending spot at the Olympics. Whenever you lose, keep fighting.

"I think I cashed in all my friendships from all the other countries", he joked.

Canada's Sam Edney is fifth, exactly one-tenth of a second behind Mazdzer. Mazdzer bounced the sled in exultation after his finish, knowing he'd finished a pristine run.

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