Team USA's Luge Athletes to Be Determined in Lake Placid

From start to finish, sliding at about 90 mph in one mile of curvy ice tunnels, athletes competing in the sport of luge at the highest level need mental and physical control.

"We're holding on. But when we say holding on, we're driving; feet, shoulders, our entire body," Olympian Chris Mazdzer explained. "We have to be relaxed under very extreme circumstances."

And it's not easy.

"To put it into perspective, yesterday, there were 37 crashes on the track. One day," Mazdzer said.

That is why it has taken years, even decades, for Team USA lugers to hone their skills. Tucker West, now 22, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, started when he was just 9.

"In 2002, we were watching the Olympics for whatever reason. We saw luge come on the TV and we were just enamored by it," West recalled.

Years of practice and hard work have now taken him to this moment, the World Cup Luge at Lake Placid, New York. It's the last qualifier for the 2010 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Mazdzer, a two-time Olympian, is looking forward to another shot. He finished 13th in the 2010 and 2014 games.

"There's a great deal of pride and honor that comes with that. You represent your country," said Mazdzer, who was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

In 2010, Emily Sweeney nearly qualified for the U.S. Olympic team as a high school junior. Her older sister, Megan, took the final spot.

"I was so grateful for that year," explained Sweeney, who was born in Portland, Maine. "I did get to spend with her on the road."

She says this time around will be different.

"I'm much more confident this time around," she explained. "I'm more comfortable and not worried about what everyone else is doing. I'm more focused on myself and that's playing to my advantage."

Many Team USA athletes have made Lake Placid their home, including Mazdzer. Lake Placid hosted the Winter Olympics back in 1932 and 1980. It has sent athletes to every Winter Olympics since 1924.

Contact Us