Chris Mazdzer wins USA's first-ever male singles luge medal

 

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Chris Mazdzer made history for the United States on Sunday night, becoming the first man ever to win a medal in a luge singles competition.

With a final time of 3:10.728, Mazdzer won silver thanks to a strong closing run over the last two rounds. He finished just .026 behind gold medalist David Gleirscher from Austria. Germany’s Johannes Ludwig rounded out the podium with a time of 3:10.932.

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Luge ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Men?s Singles competition ? Olympic Sliding Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 10, 2018 - Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. in action. REUTERS/Edgar Su
US Chris Mazdzer competes in the men's luge singles run 1 during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, at the Olympic Sliding Centre on February 10, 2018 in Pyeongchang. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 10: Chris Mazdzer of the United States during the Men's Singles Luge on day one of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Olympic Sliding Centre on February 10, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Luge ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Men?s Singles training ? Olympic Sliding Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 8, 2018 - Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. trains. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Luge ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Men?s Singles competition ? Olympic Sliding Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 10, 2018 - Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. in action. REUTERS/Edgar Su
Luge ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Men?s Singles competition ? Olympic Sliding Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 10, 2018 - Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. in action. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 11: Chris Mazdzer of the United States celebrates winning the silver medal following run 4 during the Luge Men's Singles on day two of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Olympic Sliding Centre on February 11, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
US Chris Mazdzer hugs his coach after competing in the men's luge singles run 4 final during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, at the Olympic Sliding Centre on February 11, 2018 in Pyeongchang. / AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA FEBRUARY 11, 2018: Second-placed Chris Mazdzer of the United States holds a plush toy of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics mascot Soohorang as they pose at the flower ceremony for the men's singles luge event at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, at the Olympic Sliding Centre. Sergei Bobylev/TASS (Photo by Sergei Bobylev\TASS via Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 11: Chris Mazdzer of the United States celebrates after he won silver in the Luge Men's Singles on day two of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Olympic Sliding Centre on February 11, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Luge racer Chris Mazdzer poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Mazdzer listens to 3LAU and Martin Garrix while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Luge racer Chris Mazdzer poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Mazdzer listens to 3LAU and Martin Garrix while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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Halfway through the four-round event, Mazdzer was in fourth place, with a total time of 1:35.517 — just one one-thousandth of a second behind Roman Repilov, Olympic Athlete from Russia, but it would have been enough to keep him off the medal stand.

Mazdzer then unleashed a third-round run of 47.534, the finest time of the entire competition to date, that vaulted him into second place, just behind Felix Loch’s 2:22.259. Mazdzer bounced the sled in exultation after his finish, knowing he’d finished a pristine run.

That left only the final run, and Mazdzer did exactly what he needed to do to snare the historic medal for the United States. He kept on Gleirscher’s pace until the final instants, but even then knew he’d done enough to stay on the podium. As crowds of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” echoed from the rowdy, delirious crowd, Mazdzer broke protocol by leaping over the fences that separated him from his fans and took a moment to slap some hands and hug some necks.

Far more heartbreaking was Loch; he hopped just the tiniest bit on his final run, enough to drop him into fifth. He glided into the finish zone on his sled, not moving, and others came to comfort him. Just before he left the area, he shook hands with each of the medalists, then left them to their celebrations.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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