LAKE PLACID — The endless season of Chris Mazdzer continued this morning when the 2018 Olympic luge silver medalist was named to the cast of ABC television’s “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes.”
Mazdzer, who lives in Saranac Lake and Salt Lake City, Utah, is part of an all-athlete cast for the new season which begins airing on April 30 at 8 p.m. The entire 10-member troupe was revealed live this morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“Being asked to join the prestigious and fun television show ‘Dancing with the Stars’ is an incredible honor,” Mazdzer said. “Not only is it my mom’s favorite TV show, but I will also be paired with her favorite dancer, Witney Carson.
“Dancing is something that doesn’t come naturally for me, so I will really be getting out of my comfort zone over the next few weeks while I try to survive my practices and also performing in front of a live audience and millions of television viewers. It’s going to be a lot of work, and I am sure I will have soreness in muscles I didn’t even know existed. But to bring the small sport of luge into a different demographic is worth every struggle and bump in the road.”
On Feb. 11, Mazdzer became the first American man to win an Olympic singles medal. He missed Olympic gold by a mere 0.026 of a second over four trips down the Alpensia Sliding Centre track in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Since that frosty night, his run of appearances has included “Today,” “Good Morning America,” “CBS This Morning,” “The Megyn Kelly Show,” Dr. Oz, CNN, CNBC, NBC Sports Network, Sports Illustrated, GQ, People, TMZ, the opening of the New York Stock Exchange, the iHeartRadio Music Awards, the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards and others. Mazdzer was also feted at Boston Bruins hockey and Boston Red Sox baseball games, where he was among those Olympians throwing out the first pitch.
In the midst of all this, the 29-year-old has started a new training regimen in advance of the 2018-19 World Cup season, with a long-term plan to excel four years from now at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Other contestants on this four-week “Dancing with the Stars” season are two-time Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding, Pyeongchang bronze medal figure skater Adam Rippon, his 2018 teammate and bronze medalist Mirai Nagasu, double Olympic gold medal snowboarder Jamie Anderson, gold medal softball player Jennie Finch, storied basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, retired Major League Baseball player Johnny Damon, Washington Redskins Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman and Arike Ogunbowale of Notre Dame, who hit both game-winning shots in the Final Four to lead her team to the NCAA women’s basketball championship this year.
New show runner Andrew Llinares told the Hollywood Reporter, “Over the years, many athletes who’ve participated as the celebrity dancers on DWTS have gone on to win the Mirrorball Trophy; they are used to training and competing, so they tend to do very well. I think we’ll see an intensity and level of competition that we may never have seen before on the show.”
Season 26 will commence with each athlete paired with a professional dancer. According to ABC.com, “Each week these athletes will leave their comfort zones and endure hours of grueling rehearsals to master new dance styles and technical choreography to perform a dance.”
At season’s end, one athlete will hoist the Mirrorball Trophy. Ballroom dancing experts Ken Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli return to judge the dances along with viewer votes. The four episodes will be hosted by Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews.