Mazdzer Mania: Fans go wild as US wins first medal in men's singles luge

Chris Mazdzer became the first U.S. man to medal in singles luge.

ByMae Joo and Amy Robach
February 13, 2018, 10:35 AM

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- Chris Mazdzer made history at the 2018 Winter Olympics by becoming the first from the U.S. to medal in men's singles luge -- and his raucous cheering section has become almost as famous.

"When I came out and saw the second-place, something you have dreamed about your entire life, I wanted to celebrate with family and friends," he said at a press conference after his medal-winning run in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

PHOTO: Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. celebrates winning the silver medal during the Luge Men's Singles on day two of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, Feb. 11, 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. celebrates winning the silver medal during the Luge Men's Singles on day two of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, Feb. 11, 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Mazdzer’s girlfriend Mara Marian and sisters, Kate and Sara, loudly cheered Mazdzer on while wearing U.S.-themed sports bras despite the frigid conditions. Photos of the women went viral.

"The protocol," Mazdzer explained, "is to get off the track to the left, but I got off to the right. I just wanted to be there with them. It takes a lot for them to come here and support me."

PHOTO: Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. at the start during the men's luge singles competition at the Olympic Sliding Centre during the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, South Korea, Feb. 11, 2018.
Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. at the start during the men's luge singles competition at the Olympic Sliding Centre during the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, South Korea, Feb. 11, 2018.
Daniel Kopatsch/EPA via Shutterstock

Mazdzer told ABC News' Amy Robach that if he were in a similar situation as his fans, he "would have done the same exact thing."

"It was really cool to look up and honestly know that most of the crowd was there for me," he said.

"The goal was to medal," he added, "and I really didn’t care what color it was."

PHOTO: Fans of Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. including his girlfriend Mara Marian (C) react following his third run during the luge men's singles on day two of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, Feb. 11, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.
Fans of Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. including his girlfriend Mara Marian (C) react following his third run during the luge men's singles on day two of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Olympic Sliding Centre, Feb. 11, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.
Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

The 29-year-old Mazdzer also competed in Sochi and in Vancouver, but didn't win any medals.

In luge, competitors can reach speeds close to 90 mph and many runs have a vertical drop of about 30 stories. But it's still an event that requires more psychological preparation than physical, he said.

PHOTO: Silver medalist in the luge men's singles Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. poses for a portrait on the Today Show Set, Feb. 12, 2018, in Gangneung, South Korea.
Silver medalist in the luge men's singles Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. poses for a portrait on the Today Show Set, Feb. 12, 2018, in Gangneung, South Korea.
Marianna Massey/Getty Images

Luge is a "mental, emotional roller coaster," Mazdzer added.

"Forget the bruises, they go away -- the ice burns, straining muscles, soreness -- that's easy," he said. "Physical stuff, I can do. Mental stuff is the hardest."

When Mazdzer recently went through a slump in training, he unexpectedly received a boost from a friendly rival.

PHOTO: Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. celebrates winning the silver medal following run 4 during the luge men's singles on day two of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Olympic Sliding Centre, on Feb. 11, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.
Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. celebrates winning the silver medal following run 4 during the luge men's singles on day two of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Olympic Sliding Centre, on Feb. 11, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.
Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

"This goes against every Russian-U.S.A. stereotype ever," Mazdzer explained, "but one of the Russian athletes actually wanted me to use his sled because he didn't think he would come to the Olympics, and he wanted to know what it could do. That friendship and trust was really moving."

Mazdzer declined to name the man who offered to help him.

PHOTO: Silver medalist in the luge men's singles Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. poses for a portrait on the Today Show Set, Feb. 12, 2018, in Gangneung, South Korea.
Silver medalist in the luge men's singles Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. poses for a portrait on the Today Show Set, Feb. 12, 2018, in Gangneung, South Korea.
Marianna Massey/Getty Images

"If you have the fastest equipment, why would you give it to anyone else?" said Mazdzer, who used the sled for a run in Latvia but ultimately decided he was too big for it.

"I developed such strong relationships with people," he continued. "We travel together for months on end, known them since we were 13, so you build a strong relationship. You have the human side and the luge side."

PHOTO: Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. in action during the men's luge singles run 3 competition at the Olympic Sliding Centre during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Games, South Korea, Feb. 11, 2018.
Chris Mazdzer of the U.S. in action during the men's luge singles run 3 competition at the Olympic Sliding Centre during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Games, South Korea, Feb. 11, 2018.
Diego Azubel/EPA via Shutterstock
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