Chris Mazdzer is competing on the new season of Dancing With the Stars. Mazdzer won a silver medal in the men’s luge competition on February 11. The luge star is representing Team USA in PyeongChang, South Korea, making his third Olympic appearance. According to NBC, Mazdzer’s win marks “the first men’s singles luge medal in U.S. history.”
“It’s 16 years in the making. I’ve had a rough last two years, and it just shows: Don’t ever give up. Whenever you lose, keep fighting,” Mazdzer told NBC’s Lewis Johnson after his historic win.
Last year, Mazdzer, 29, was named an Athlete Mentor for Classroom Champions, “a non-profit organization partnering Olympic and Paralympic athletes with students and teachers in underserved communities.” Other athletes who have participated in the organization’s program include figure skater Meryl Davis, short track speed skater JR Celski, and cross-country skier Jesse Cockney.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. This Was His First Olympic Medal Ever
Mazdzer made his Olympic debut in Vancouver back in 2010, but he didn’t medal, finishing in 13th place. His second Olympic appearance came in Sochi in 2014, but he finished in 13th place in those Games as well.
Mazdzer has worked incredibly hard over the past couple of years and seems to have improved his skills. In the 2015-2016 season, he took home two World Cup titles. He competed in World Championship in 2016, finishing in fourth place.
According to his official Team USA profile, Mazdzer has won 10 individual World Cup Medals. He is a seven-time Norton National Champion and he ranked 3rd overall in the 2015-16 World Cup season.
He put himself in serious medal contention on February 10, finishing in fifth at 48.075 after the first run, and second at 47.717 after the second, leaving him in fourth place.
“Mazdzer broke the course record Loch had set moments earlier to vault into second place, putting together a flawless run. He conquered the infamous ninth curve with ease to put himself into perfect position for a medal,” NBC reports.
2. Actress Leslie Jones Made Headlines for Her Comments About Him
Saturday Night Live! actress Leslie Jones tuned into Saturday’s luge event and happened to catch Mazdzer on his run. Jones posted a series of Instagram videos in which she was freaking out about the sport.
“I’m not trying to be a professional or anything, but this s—t does not look safe. There’s no padding. This mother—ker is literally on one of those things that you carry the refrigerator on … Dude, if you hit a pebble, you are f—ked! … I built one of these when I was little bit I did not do this s—t with it. … And you’re trying to stop with your feet? Oh, god! Oh, god,” Jones exclaimed while filming Mazdzer’s luge performance on Saturday, February 10.
Not only has Mazdzer been making headlines for his Olympic performance, but some people have also been talking about how handsome he is. And Jones couldn’t help but comment on Mazdzer’s looks, either.
“He is fine as hell, I know that much. That’s for damn sure, Chris. Why don’t you luge on over here to my place,” she said.
You can check out one of the videos below. Be advised that there is some strong language that may not be safe for work.
3. He Is Dating Mara Marian
“Plan and design weddings, corporate and social events for clients looking for personal and unique event design. Also work as private event contact for five downtown Salt Lake City Nightclubs, Bars and Restaurants- which are among the most popular hot spots in the city. Oversee all corporate events, event management & event production for these venue clients,” her job description reads.
Marian is in PyeongChang with Mazdzer and has been supporting him on his journey. She recently took to Instagram to share a sweet message about how proud she is of her guy.
“So proud of Chris. It was incredible to finally see in person and be a part of everything he does. Watching him compete was truly amazing, I’m so excited to have finally experienced it all. We’re both leaving Calgary in the morning, but I get to see him compete again next week in his hometown of Lake Placid! Congratulations [Chris] on everything you accomplished this week! Your natural talent, hard work and dedication resulted in so many major triumphs, thank you for inviting me to be a part of it. And thank you to your parents, your sisters [Kate] and [Sara], and the entire luge family for welcoming me into the fold,” she wrote back in December.
Just after Mazdzer won silver in PyeongChang, Marian took to Instagram to post the following.
4. His Dad Is a Neurologist & He Has 2 Sisters
Mazdzer’s dad is Edward Mazdzer, a neurologist who practices in Mazdzer’s hometown of Saranac Lake, New York. His mom, Marty Lawthers, works as an office manager at the practice. Mazdzer also has two sisters, Kate and Sara.
Kate Mazdzer describes herself as a “mountain gal” and loves to travel and explore. She graduated from St. Lawrence University and previously worked for a mortgage company, according to her LinkedIn page.
Mazdzer’s whole family has been super supportive of his career as a professional athlete. Back in February 2010, his mom attended the men’s luge final at the Whistler Sliding Center to cheer him on, just a few days after luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili died after he was “thrown from his sled into a metal pole on the track’s final turn during a practice run.”
Lawthers talked to the press at the event, saying that she trusts her son on the luge track, but that she felt terrible about what happened to Kumaritashvili.
“A death happened just the other day, and here I am cheering. I do think about that, and I do feel bad. This should not have happened. You know that a track can injure your son. You don’t think it can kill him. I so feel for his mother. She thought she was sending her son to the Olympics. She didn’t expect him to go to war and not come home,” Lawthers told Time back in 2010.
5. He Grew up in Saranac Lake, New York & Attended DeVry University
Mazdzer was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, but grew up in Saranac, New York.
Being from the northeast, he’s no stranger to the cold, which is why he has been prepared for the weather in South Korea.
“I mean, Opening Ceremonies is one of the coolest things you can ever do in your life. You just have to prepare. The jeans we have from Ralph Lauren are really tight, and I’m not going to be able to fit a whole lot under there. But hand warmers, foot warmers, you do whatever you can. You just have to be there,” he said, according to the Washington Post.
Mazdzer attended the National Sports Academy (high school) in Lake Placid, New York, before enrolling at DeVry University in Illinois.