West finishes 26th in Olympic luge; teammate wins silver

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Competing in his third Olympics, Mazdzer, 29, followed up two impressive runs on Saturday with an even better performance on Sunday.

Erin Hamlin is the only US luge athlete of any gender to medal in singles competition at the Olympics, having won bronze in 2014.

(L-R) Chris Mazdzer, David Gleirscher and Johannes Ludwig react as they watch the final run of Felix Loch in the luge men's singles at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang on February 11, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Mazdzer finished 13th in two previous Winter Games, so this was quite a step up.

Loch's loss translated into big gains for Mazdzer and Gleirscher, who beat out the American by just over two hundredths of a second to become the first Austrian to win the event in five decades.

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"It's 16 years in the making", Mazdzer told NBC's Lewis Johnson after winning silver.

A clean run for Loch nearly guaranteed a medal, and yet, amazingly, he made a slight but hugely significant error that saw him slump to fifth in the overall standings. Mazdzer broke the course record Loch had set moments earlier to vault into second place, putting together a flawless run.

As an 18-year-old, West had finished 22nd in the luge men's singles at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In the final run his time of 47.677, his second-best of the competition, was enough to land the silver.

NPR's Melissa Block reports he leaped from his sled after that final run, vaulting "into the stands to hug his family and grab an American flag". The U.S. had won five medals in luge since the sport was introduced to the Games in 1964, but none in men's singles.

"The men's medal and then the gold medal, and then we'll be a happy organization", Caligiore said.

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