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USA Luge set to depart next week for training camps in Russia

LAKE PLACID — After a summer of training at the start facility in Lake Placid, along with time spent at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center, USA Luge will depart later this month for camps on three Olympic tracks.

The fall is a key time for luge teams to build their run counts prior to the start of World Cup racing.

“We intend to accumulate 144 runs per sled prior to the competition season,” U.S. head coach Robert Fegg said in a statement. “In this time, we want to see our athletes get comfortable with their equipment, and test various technology and sled set-ups. The fall is the time to do it as we only get five runs per week once the World Cup tour begins.”

After recently competing in the indoor start championships, the team is scheduled to slide in Sochi for two weeks, from late September to early October. The stay in Russia was recently extended for a second week and replaced a camp in Lillehammer, Norway, which was canceled due to travel restrictions.

After that, the U.S. team will return to Lake Placid for its only appearances at home this season. The team is scheduled to open the local sliding season from Oct. 13 to 17. From Oct. 20 to 25, the national team will slide at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City.

Due to the extensive travel schedule, team members will get a break in late October prior to the long journey to Beijing. The first three weeks of November will be spent at the Yanqing Sliding Center where racers and coaches will finally get a first-hand look at February’s Olympic course. The World Cup season will begin there from Nov. 20 to 21.

The team is led by three-time Olympian and 2018 silver medalist Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake. Mazdzer is among the rare athletes who could race in singles, doubles and the team relay at the Winter Games. However, before he gets to that point, there will be several important matters to sort through, according to Mazdzer.

“I will be testing all new equipment in both singles and doubles and will be starting off the season all-in on these new setups,” Mazdzer said in a statement. “I am sure there is going to be a learning curve but I am confident that I at least have the mental and physical fortitude and strength to deal with any challenges that might come my way. I know Jayson (Terdiman) is also excited about a new doubles sled from Andre (Florscheutz, Olympic silver medalist) that will be built to fit us finally, and I am hoping this will increase our stability and therefore consistency down the track.”

Around mid-January, luge’s national governing body will nominate its 2022 Olympic team to the USOPC. Competitors have the first seven races of the World Cup season to stake their claim to a berth in Beijing. As usual, the Olympic quota is three women singles, three men singles and two doubles teams for a combined 10 nominees.