LAKE PLACID — While four-time U.S. luge Olympian Chris Mazdzer will cap off his long and decorated career at the FIL Luge World Cup this weekend, it will also mark the start of the season. The World Cup will be held at Mount Van Hoevenberg on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 8 and 9 for the first time since 2019.
As many world-class luge athletes make their way to this village, this will also be the final FIL Luge World Cup on American soil for USA Luge CEO Jim Leahy, who plans on retiring following the conclusion of this season.
“I’ve been here a little over 10 years. I’ll have some of my family around as well,” Leahy said. “There is a number of us. Brittany Arndt will be retiring as well. She’ll be able to race in a Nations Cup. Chris will be doing his last run. I couldn’t be happier to finish my last World Cup in the U.S. here in Lake Placid.”
This weekend’s event will be the first of nine stops on the FIL Luge World Cup tour that will include the World Championships in Altenberg, Germany.
“To have the season open up here in Lake Placid is pretty special for us,” Leahy said. “We were able to utilize our start facility last Friday night and had all the athletes that have been in town here for close to two weeks participating in a start competition. It’s a boost in the economy at this point in time when you’ve got all these athletes here.”
Lake Placid was previously scheduled to host luge World Cups in 2020 and 2021. The planned World Cup in 2020 was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the 2021 World Cup was moved to Krasnaya Polyana, Russia — the site of the 2014 Sochi Olympic track — due to COVID-19 concerns.
The World Cup will feature singles and doubles competitions for both men and women, as well as a sprint competition. This will be the first time Lake Placid has held an FIL World Cup women’s doubles event, since it made its World Cup debut last season. Women’s doubles is slated for its first Olympic Winter Games in 2026 in Italy.
“It’s a field that’s growing,” Leahy said. “Our international luge federation has been working on this for a number of years. It’s pretty special for our women here to have an opportunity to show the field that they’re willing to compete for a podium spot in the Olympic Games.”
The competition will kick off on Dec. 8 at 9:15 a.m. with men’s and women’s doubles. The men’s singles competition will follow the doubles race at 12:40 p.m.
On Dec. 9, the women’s singles event will start at 9:30 a.m., followed by the sprint competition at 12:15 p.m.
There are currently 28 women, 26 men, 11 women’s doubles and 19 men’s doubles from 16 nations that are registered for the season opener. The U.S. will have three men’s and women’s singles sliders each, as well as two men’s and women’s doubles teams.
The USA Luge team comes into the season with an experienced group. Mazdzer, Jonny Gustafsson and Tucker West will compete in men’s singles. Emily Sweeney, Summer Britcher and Ashley Farquharson will compete in women’s singles.
In men’s doubles, the U.S. will be represented by 2022 Olympians Sean Hollander and Zack DiGregorio and Dana Kellog and Frank Ike. In the women’s doubles, it will be Sophie Kirkby and Chevonne Forgan and Maya Chan and Reannyn Weiler.
Those interested can purchase tickets at https://tinyurl.com/58ck5buy.