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Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer sets luge retirement

Chris Mazdzer

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 15: Chris Mazdzer of the United States reacts during the Luge Team Relay on day six of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Olympic Sliding Centre on February 15, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

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Chris Mazdzer, who in 2018 became the first American man to win an Olympic singles luge medal, is retiring from the sport after four Olympics at age 35.

Mazdzer will take his final runs this weekend at a World Cup in Lake Placid, New York, near his childhood hometown of Saranac Lake.

“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 said. “A few weeks ago, as I made the decision that Lake Placid would be my last World Cup, I felt mixed emotions. It’s hard not to feel a little bit of sadness bidding farewell to a sport that I love so dearly.”

In 2018, Mazdzer entered the Olympics ranked 18th in the world in singles and without a World Cup podium in two years.

He came away with a stunning silver medal, just 26 thousandths of a second behind surprise gold medalist David Gleirscher of Austria. That wound up being the last top-level international singles podium of his career.

Mazdzer married wife Mara in May 2020. The couple welcomed son Nico in April 2021. In October, they announced a second child is due next spring.

“It became really challenging in that sense because I want to be home,” Mazdzer said, according to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in New York. “My son — no one ever taught him to fold his arms and be upset — but when I get on Facetime with him, he’s upset that I’m gone, and I get it.

“I can’t dedicate the time it would require to be an exceptional luge athlete and have a job and have a family. Something had to give.”

Mazdzer followed a finish of eighth at the 2022 Olympics with a limited racing schedule last season, placing 10th in a pair of World Cups.

After PyeongChang, Mazdzer added doubles racing to his plate with fellow Olympian Jayson Terdiman. They just missed qualifying for last year’s Olympics.

At age 9, Mazdzer turned on the 1998 Nagano Winter Games. Luge was the first sport he saw, and in that moment he decided he wanted to become a luger.

At age 17, he missed the 2006 Olympic team by 161 thousandths of a second. He made his Olympic debut four years later and was the top American man for most of the 2010s decade, succeeding Tony Benshoof.

With Mazdzer departing, the longest-tenured U.S. men’s luger will be three-time Olympian Tucker West.