KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Sliding their first Olympic event together, the U.S. luge doubles team of Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman finished 11th on Wednesday – three places ahead of the other U.S. team.
Niccum of Woodinville, Wash said they made a mistake in an uphill section of the Sanki Sliding Center during their first run, and another mistake in a different uphill section in the second run, but ended with a respected combined time of 1 minute, 40.945 seconds.
“We didn’t crash but it’s not optimal,” he said. “You have to be perfect out here today, especially with those uphill sections. You can’t mess up before those uphills. The first run we bumped the wall and the second run we did end up bumping the wall a little bit.”
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Winning gold in the doubles luge was the German team of Toias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, finishing with a combined two-run time of 1 minute, 38.933 seconds. Silver went to Andreas and Wolfgang Linger of Austria who came in at 1 minute, 39.455 seconds. Andris and Juris Sics of Austria earned bronze, with a time of 1 minute, 39:790.
The U.S. team of Matthew Mortensen and Preston Griffall were 14th with a time of 1 minutes, 41.703 seconds.
The last time a U.S. doubles luge team won an Olympic medal was at Salt Lake City in 2002.
Terdiman said they would use Wednesday’s double-luge experience as practice runs for Thursday’s relay – a new event in the Olympic Games. It’s a mixed-gender, singles and doubles event.
Their team will start with a run by Erin Hamlin, who won the bronze – a first for the U.S. After she tags in, Chris Mazdzer will make his run. And then the doubles team of Niccum and Terdiman will go.
“We have two more runs underneath us,” Niccum said. “We made some mistakes and I think we know how to fix them. Hopefully come back tomorrow in the team relay and deliver a solid run.”
“We’re looking forward to tomorrow.”
Bellisle writes for the Reno Gazette-Journal.