Chris Mazdzer, the surprising new owner of an Olympic silver medal, received a helping hand from perhaps the most unlikely of sources: a competitor from the Russian team. Mazdzer is the first-ever U.S. Olympic medalist in men’s single luge. In January, he had slid to No. 18 in the world rankings and felt like he was stuck in a rut.
“What kills me and has been driving me wild for over a year now is the fact that no matter what I do,” he posted on social media three weeks earlier, according to The Washington Post, “my top speed and ability to be with the top guys in the world has disappeared, and I don’t know why. … There comes a point where giving it everything you have and believing in yourself starts to fade away and I am almost to that point.”
Other athletes noticed. Mazdzer revealed during a press conference Monday that one of his Russian rivals offered the use of the sled. The Russian racer felt like his own Olympic hopes were fading, but wanted to help the American veteran do his best. Mazdzer said it would be like a NASCAR driver lending out his car or a sprinter passing along his lucky running shoes: it doesn’t happen. Mazdzer eagerly took the Russian luger up on his offer, and even though he ultimately used a sled of his own to reach the podium, he felt grateful that others were there to help him snap out of his slump.