Team USA may have lost a key contributor just five months ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Games. Reigning Olympic luge silver medalist Chris Mazdzer broke his right foot during a preseason training run on Thursday, bringing his availability for the Games into question.
Mazdzer told the AP he will "need some time" to determine whether he can compete at an Olympic level by February.
"I knew something was wrong right away since I couldn't put any pressure on my foot, and imaging confirmed that I broke my foot in a few places," said Mazdzer, who competed on season 26 of the Dancing Stars. "After investing physically, mentally and financially for this Olympic year, the game plan changed in just the matter of a few seconds," he added.
Mazdzer told the AP his foot broke after it slammed into a piece of ice while traveling over 75 mph. The 33-year-old was practicing with a few of his American teammates at the 2014 Olympic track in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia prior to the injury. Mazdzer, a three-time Olympian, competed on that very track during the 2014 Games.
The absence of Mazder would be a major hit to USA Luge, which is counting on him to compete in both the doubles and singles events. Mazder, the only World Cup-level luger to compete in both disciplines, won a silver medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games in the singles event.
Mazdzer's doubles partner Jayson Terdiman is confident Mazdzer can return to his pre-injury form in time to defend his medal.
"Over the last three years, we have overcome numerous injuries and still come back stronger," Terdiman said. "I believe this instance will be no different. Chris and I are both mentally tough, and we know how to get through anything. ... Neither of us has been deterred from the end goal, putting Team USA on the podium in Beijing."
After beginning its training in Russia, USA Luge is set to continue those preparations in China this fall. The 2022 Winter Games will take place Feb. 4-20 in Beijing.