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February 2, 2014

Bearing the flame, bound for Sochi

LAKE PLACID — Focus, race, celebrate, pack: repeat.

The road to the Sochi Winter Olympic Games is a fast-paced, non-stop journey, flying from one mountain village somewhere in the world to the next. Ramping up this past few months, whether athletes earn a place on a team or not, delivers its own kind of wild ride. 

USA Luge, based close to the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, began their World Cup series in November at Lillehammer in Norway.

Travels since brought them to Igls in Austria; Winterberg, Germany; Whistler in Canada; Park City, in Utah; to Konigssee and Oberhof and then Altenberg in Germany; to Sigulda in Latvia this weekend; and culminating with the trip to Sochi, Russia.

Athletes who live and train at home in Lake Placid or grew up here have accomplished feats of both sport and stamina these past few months, all under the white-hot spotlight of worldwide media attention.

SOCHI BOUND

Lake Placid is pouring its best toward Russia. And the athletes carry a hometown passion for Olympic fire with them.

Among them is men’s singles luge racer Chris Mazdzer, who grew up in Saranac Lake.

Reached via email, he said he couldn’t have done it without family, friends and this community.

“Growing up in the shadows of Lake Placid and its deep Olympic tradition has always helped me keep the Olympics close to the center of my attention,” Mazdzer, 25, said.

“Every time I am home and doing errands in town people who I do not personally know wish me luck, and tell me how great of a season I am having ... even if I did not meet my own personal expectations.

“Regardless of my endeavors and results, I know that everyone in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid is supporting me and wishing me the very best. I think that this travels with me not only to the Olympics but also to every competition that I compete in.”

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