BOSTON (CBS) – At the Sochi Olympics, women will compete in ski jumping first the first time ever at the Winter Games.
It’s one of 12 new winter sports events.
The luge event has been around since 1964, when it debuted at the Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mary Blake reports
CHRIS MAZDZER – LUGE
Chris Mazdzer is a luge athlete who will represent the United States in these Olympics. He was born in Pittsfield, and became a slider at the age of 8, when he moved to Saranac Lake, New York, and enrolled in a Thursday program at Lake Placid.
“I just enjoyed sledding and we had a bunch of apple orchards where we would always go sledding, and this was kind of the ultimate sledding hill,” Mazdzer recalls.
He says he discovered a passion for the sport before he found out he was good. So, what does he think about as he’s hurtling down the track?
“There’s no point where I’m thinking about how fast I’m actually going. It’s really, you’re entirely focused on the moment, feeling the sled, knowing what you have to do, just reacting to how the sled is driving. I guess there is really no other sensation like it, hence why we don’t really have good cross-training, a really good way to cross-train for this sport. You pretty much have to do this sport to understand it and be good,” says Mazdzer.
He came in 13th in Vancouver four years ago and has steadily improved since then.
He placed sixth in the World Championships last year and last month finished the World Cup season ranked fifth.
Mazdzer also says he’s ready for anything that Sochi has to offer, adding that Nodar Kumaritashvili’s tragic death during a training run in Vancouver was difficult.
The Sochi Luge track was slowed down as a result, with three uphill sections added.
ANNALISA DREW – SKIING
Annalisa Drew is a first timer at the Olympics and will compete in the free ski halfpipe competition.
She’s from Andover and says she feels she’s training for her sport all the time.
“It might sound a little funny, but even when you’re not skiing on skis you could be tramping, which is trampolining to learn how to do tricks before we throw them on snow, and a lot of the time, for me, it’s visualization. I like to sit when I’m eating dinner and think about it. It’s weird,” she laughs.
Drew, now 20, has been competitively skiing since she was 12, but first put on skis when she was 3.
She learned to ski at Loon Mountain.
“It started as a recreational thing, until my cousins got me into it,” she says.
Drew describes her sport as doing what Shaun White does on a snowboard, only she’s on skis.
She describes how she knows when she’s had a good run. “It’s crazy when you get those moments, when you have those moments where it went by so slow, and you were able to think about every trick as you were doing it, and those are the runs that I’m like, OK, that was one of my best runs because I had time to think about every trick and what grab I’m gonna do before I got there,” she explains.
Drew says she’ll have two runs and the best run counts.
“That’s pretty awesome,” she says. “A lot of sports do, like, both combined or something like that.”
What’s her advice to viewers who want to watch her competition?
“Just look for, like clean runs that are super styley. Athletes who do all their grabs definitely will do really well. Grabs are a key part of style so that’s huge. Just flow and looking comfortable and amplitude will definitely be a high scoring run.”
Drew adds, “A shout out to my coaches and my family, too. Without them I would not be where I am. They are awesome and great and thank you so much.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Mary Blake will be previewing the Olympic Games in her series ‘Going For Gold’ all week. You can catch her reports on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 at 6:55 a.m., 12:25 and 5:55 p.m.