February 10, 2014

Mazdzer finishes 13th in luge

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Whether Armin Zoeggeler is the best luger ever is debatable.

Except at the Olympics.

Under the five rings, no one did it better.

Zoeggeler is now the only person with six Olympic luge medals, after winning a bronze Sunday night at the Sochi Games to break a tie with German legend Georg Hackl atop the all-time standings. Zoeggeler’s final time was 3 minutes, 28.797 seconds, placing him 1.271 seconds behind German gold medalist Felix Loch and 0.795 seconds slower than Russian silver medalist Albert Demchenko.

“I have really had a good time,” Zoeggeler said.

Zoeggeler, 40, now has two golds, a silver and three bronzes in his Olympic career, which is all but certain to end in Sochi. But his medal total still may grow if, as expected, he represents Italy when the team relay makes its debut in the games program on Feb. 13 — exactly 20 years from the date where he made his Olympic debut in Lillehammer.

“He came, he saw, he conquered, he dominated, he did everything he could,” said Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, N.Y., the top American in the Olympic field with a 13th-place finish. “What else is there?”

Not much.

Zoeggeler’s medal count is almost unbelievable. He’s got 103 medals in World Cup races, including 57 golds. He has 10 medals from world championships, including six golds. Tack on the six more medals from the Olympics, and that’s 119 medals from major international competition, along with an amazing record in the overall World Cup competitions — 10 wins, four seconds and one third.

“A role model,” Loch said earlier this season, “in every possible way.”

“He probably could keep doing this,” Mazdzer said. “But there comes a time when you’ve done everything.”

Mazdzer’s fourth and final run Sunday was his best of the two-day competition. His time of 52.198 seconds was the 10th best for the run, leaving him 2.428 seconds out of first with an aggregate time of 3:29.954.

“The last run was really good. I was extremely pleased with it,” Mazdzer said. “But it was not enough to close the gap.”

Mazdzer will look forward to the team competition later this week.

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