In his third Olympics, Chris Mazdzer broke through to win silver, the first U.S. medal in singles luge. With a four-run total of 3:10.728, Mazdzer only missed gold by 0.026. But the 29-year-old is more than content with silver, as he continues to try to grow his sport in the United States.

ThePostGame: First off, we're in the U.S., [talking on Feb. 23,] you're going to be back in South Korea for the closing ceremony in 24 hours. You won early in the Olympics, so what have the last two weeks been like for you?
CHRIS MAZDZER: The last two weeks have been a complete whirlwind. But for the most part, it has been something that I was not expecting. I don't feel like I've slept very much, but also, the support that I've received from family, friends and all of the past generation of luge athletes reaching out, that has been the biggest impact on me. It's been this really emotional roller coaster, but it's been a lot of fun.

TPG: Right after you won, there was the iconic shot of your sister crying. When did you see that?
MAZDZER: I saw it that night, because they replayed it. People saved it, and they sent it in. I do have the best fans. I know exactly where they are. They have body paint on. They're in sports bras, and against a sea of red, white and blue, it's very easy to pick them out.

TPG: Did she tell you that she had cried?
MAZDZER: Everyone was crying. It was very emotional. I was crying, my family was crying. It was a very emotional thing. No one had to say they were crying, pretty much everyone from in my support group, my family, my friends, my teammates, my organization, my sponsors, they were all crying at some point.

TPG: This was your third Olympics. You've been around, the guys from Team USA know who you are and everything. But the moment that you get back to the Olympic Village after getting this silver medal, what was the reaction like from other athletes?
MAZDZER: It was pretty wild. That night the wind had canceled a lot of the other events, so luge was the only thing playing. So there are videos that they showed me where a ton of USA athletes are in the athletes' lounge in the building that I was staying in and they actually recorded everyone's reactions. They recorded everyone watching my run as I am going down. You could see people were really nervous and everyone freaked out. So just seeing that, it means so much to me that everyone does care. Even though we're competitors, even though we don't really train together all year round, to have that support from Team USA is huge.

TPG: When you were a kid, how did you first get into luge? How many Olympic luge tracks are there in the U.S.?
MAZDZER: There are only two Olympic-level luge tracks in the U.S. For the most part, how kids get into luge is what we call the "White Castle Slider Search." And we take our sleds and we put wheels on them and they become street luges. We go to kids ages 10-15 and we run them through some cones. Based off of natural ability, coachability, strength and enthusiasm, we bring them to Lake Placid in the winter, where we bring the team down to about 20 to start the program. I got into it because I love sledding and I grew up close to Lake Placid. There was a program where I could go into the luge track and take a couple of runs a night, and it was "ultimate sledding." So that's how I fell in love with luge. It was the largest sledding hill that I could do as a kid.

TPG: Because they're on TV more, how have you seen the fans of these "sliding sports" in the U.S. progress over time?  With you winning this luge medal, how is that going to change things?
MAZDZER: Over the last couple of years, what has really helped is digital platforms, where we don't have to go to the largest networks to have them broadcast a luge race, we can do stuff on digital platforms and that's been huge. We can reach people anywhere, any time. But to have the biggest race of my life on primetime TV and to have four perfect runs, that was also a really exciting race. It showed how difficult luge is, people are messing up, they aren't perfect through it. I really hope that this is a positive catalyst for the progression of the sport in the U.S.

TPG: I like to think that I can pick up sports pretty easily, but I'm watching luge, skeleton or bobsled and someone goes around a turn. And the announcer says, "What a mistake!" And the mistake costs them .01 of a second, but that means a ton in luge. What are you looking for? How can we tell when someone makes a mistake?
MAZDZER: You need a good commentator to walk you through what's happening. A lot of times, those little mistakes, after four runs, after three and a half minutes of sliding, I missed out on the gold medal by .0026 of a second. Everyone says, "Silver is the worst because you just missed out on gold but bronze, you're just happy to be up there on the podium." But, no, I am pumped to be on the podium with silver. That wasn't even a consideration.

It's so hard for the untrained eye to pick up on what we're doing. It does look like at the highest level that we're just laying there and going down, but that's two decades of doing this every winter, every day. And we're driving with our shoulders, with our hands, we're relaxed, our position, our confidence, our feet, our lines, every single part of our body controls the luge sled, and if one of those little things are off, you're losing time. you need a commentator to point that out to you while it's going down.

TPG: A kid comes up to you and says that he wants get into luge. What's your first piece of advice?

MAZDZER: Do you like sledding? If they’re like, "I love sledding." Then it's, "Good, we can do something with you."  If they don't really enjoy sledding, then maybe we should go back to basics first. If kids want to come into the sport of luge, I recommend going to and check out where the White Castle Slider Search will be. You can go there on weekends and that'll be your first step into the luge sport.

TPG: What's next in your life?
MAZDZER: I'm going another four years. Beijing [2022] will be my last Olympics. And there's a lot that I want to do for the sport. I'm the chair of the athlete's commission for the Federation of International Luge. I want to make this sport better for the athletes and also try to grow the sport however I can. In the next four years, not only am I working on myself, but I want to make this sport a better place, for athletes, spectators and everyone involved.

TPG: When you show up at the Olympics 20 years from now, what do you want to see from the sport?
MAZDZER: I want to see that this sport is very inclusive. I want to see more nations doing well. I want to see a larger pool of athletes, I want races to be decided by athletic talent, so you can physically see which athletes are doing the best, and if they have a good run, what they did is shown in the results.

Mazdzer sat down at the FTI Summit in Beaver Creek, where he made an appearance before going back to PyeongChang for the closing ceremony.

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