Jayson Terdiman and Matt Mortensen had to go for broke.
Sitting in sixth place heading into their final run and just .313 seconds out of medal contention — .424 out of first — the U.S. Olympians knew they had to take some risks in their second doubles luge run if they wanted a shot at a medal.
With the risks they took, however, there would be a greater possibility for error.
They cleared Curve 9 — “the run breaker” — with ease, but as they continued down the course they found some trouble heading into Curve 13.
Suddenly their time dropped from in the green to the red. The American duo stayed in fifth when crossing the finish line before dropping to 10th.
“You know, at the end of the day, I’m proud of how Matt and I raced today,” said Terdiman, a Berwick native. “Yes, it wasn’t the result we had set out to achieve, but we didn’t hold back. Our first run was damn near perfect, but the sled setup was for colder/harder ice conditions, which we had seen in all of our training sessions. So we made the conscious decision to change that setup for the second run. We had it made a little ‘riskier’ knowing that we had nothing to lose.”
While the run breaker and upper part of the course didn’t give Terdiman and Mortensen problems — they got through the curve seven of eight times without a hitch — it was later on in the course where they struggled. Specifically in the transition between Curves 12 and 13.
The pair slid through Curve 12 in good standing, but they got up too early in the beginning of 13 and came down early before touching the side of the wall. It was right there that they went from the leading time to behind the Latvian sled of Andris and Juris Sics.
From there they couldn’t make up the time they had lost at Curve 13 the rest of the way down.
“We had a small mistake not pushing the pressure in the beginning of Curve 13, which resulted in an early exit and put us into that left wall,” Terdiman said.
With hopes of finishing on the podium, Terdiman and Mortensen finished in 10th after two runs with a time of 1:32.687. However, the 10th-place finish was better than both of the luger’s runs in Sochi. Terdiman finished 11th while Mortensen came in 14th.
The defending gold medalists from Sochi, Germans Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, took first with a combined run of 1:31.697. The Austrian duo of Peter Penz and Georg Fischler took silver (1:31.785) while the top pair in the world, Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken, won bronze (1:31.987).
Fellow Americans Justin Krewson and Andrew Sherk — who hails from the Philadelphia area — finished in eighth in 1:32.652.
But the journey doesn’t stop here for Terdiman. Doubles luge was just Terdiman’s first chance at a medal in the Pyeongchang Games.
He’s back in the team relay with Mortensen on Thursday. Men’s singles silver medalist Chris Mazdzer and women’s singles luger Summer Britcher round out the American contingent, who will be the 10th of 14th sled off the handles.
While Mazdzer arguably ran the race of his life on Sunday, setting the track record during his third run, en route to a silver medal, Terdiman, Mortensen and Britcher are all looking to end their Olympics on a high note.
Terdiman and Mortensen wanted more than a 10th-place finish and Britcher set the course record in her first run on Monday before finishing 19th in singles.
“Matt and I are both incredibly excited for another chance to represent Team USA in the team relay tomorrow,” Terdiman said. “We know that if each sled has a clean run we have an amazing chance at standing on the Olympic podium. We will use the lessons learned in today’s race to help us be the best we possibly can tomorrow.”