Jayson Terdiman has been having dreams about standing on the podium at the Winter Olympics this month.
As the Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games approached, the Berwick native’s dreams started occurring more frequently.
Now that Terdiman’s big day is finally here, the 29-year-old will have his first of two chances of turning them into reality.
Wednesday marks the first of his two days of competition. Terdiman will have two runs in doubles luge starting at 6:20 a.m., with a chance to go for gold by the time his family and friends are having lunch back home in northeastern Pennsylvania.
“It’s surreal, but that’s been a dream since I was a kid — to stand on the Olympic podium,” Terdiman said. “Not just Matt (Mortensen) and I have a great opportunity, but we have an even better opportunity as a relay event. When the three legs of that event have a good run, we can beat almost anybody. We’re going to have hopefully two great chances of being up on that podium.”
Terdiman and his teammate Matt Mortensen qualified in the seeded group, which was their goal ahead of the games, and have been running well during their training.
The pair finished second in their fourth training run, fourth in three of the six training runs, fifth in their sixth run and didn’t finish in their fifth run.
With success at the Olympic Sliding Centre, both in training, a World Cup race last season — when they finished seventh — and then preseason training in fall, the duo has built up plenty of confidence going into race day.
“During the race last year, we had actually a pretty poor performance and still finished seventh. So we’re kind of happy with that,” Terdiman said. “We were showing a lot of speed during the training there. We were having first-and second-place times, which is great for our confidence, knowing that our equipment does run at that track is great, and hopefully we’ll block everything out and do it on race day.”
This trip to the Olympics is different for Terdiman.
After using the Sochi Games as an opportunity to gain valuable experience for the future — he finished 11th in doubles and sixth in team relay — this time around could be different. Pyeongchang is an opportunity to make a statement for United States luge.
The United States sat in good standings in each of the four divisions heading into the Games. Terdiman and Mortensen rank fifth in the world, United States flag-bearer Erin Hamlin ranks seventh and Tucker West ranks 10th. The United States ranks sixth in team relay as well.
And this surge by the U.S. isn’t a fluke either.
Terdiman and Mortensen finished third during their World Cup campaign a season ago while Hamlin finished fourth and West was seventh. Their relay team was sixth in the world as well. Hamlin was a bronze medalist in Sochi.
“Our team as a whole — even the men’s singles, women’s singles, our team relay — it’s been very successful these past four years. We’re all on a very good rising trend,” Terdiman said. “This is the first Olympics where we have a medal opportunity for each discipline, and it brings on a little bit more of a confidence for every slider on the team.
“It’s great for everyone, and it’s really cool to be a part of that — to be on this team with these athletes — to hopefully change the culture of USA luge in the United States and bring it to more of a forefront. It’s really cool.”
With Chris Mazdzer, a three-time Olympian, and Hamlin both throwing down impressive runs in the men’s and women’s disciplines earlier in the week, Terdiman and Mortensen hope to share that momentum heading into their runs.
Seeded eighth going into Wednesday’s runs, Terdiman and Mortensen will look to be the second United States luge entrant to medal in Pyeongchang. Mazdzer took a surprise silver on Sunday while Hamlin finished sixth, and 0.268 seconds off of the podium, Tuesday.
“Somebody asked me two days ago if I was ‘super excited’ like I was for Sochi,” Terdiman said. “And my response was, ‘You know, it’s kind of different.’ When I went to Sochi I felt like a giddy, little school girl. I was super excited and I couldn’t contain myself. I don’t have that now. My stomach’s not in a butterfly. I’m not nervous. I’m not excited. I mean, I am excited for sure. I’m excited to go into these Olympics, but it’s not the same as it was four years ago, and I think that’s because Matt and I have a job to do.
“If we do it well, we have a great opportunity in front of us.”