PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Taylor Morris sees luge competition as the reward for all his hard work.
But, after a lifetime of working for his Olympic moment, the Bingham High grad found his reward a bit intimidating.
“To be honest with you, it was terrifying,” Morris said after the first day of competition left him out of medal contention but completely grateful for the experience. “One the outside, you try to look calm and cool, but you’re shaking in your own skin. I was just glad to get the first run jitter out of the way.”
His first run was pretty good, and so the South Jordan native felt confident heading into his second of the night.
“I felt really good going into this run, which kind of stinks,” he said after the second of four runs in a competition that began Saturday night and ends Sunday evening with those final two slides. “I feel like I slide really well when I’m calm and comfortable, but I just made a mistake, and it ended up costing me in the end.”
While Morris, sitting in 23rd place, and his teammate Tucker West, currently in 18th place, are out of medal contention, Olympic veteran Chris Mazdzer is in the position to make a little history. Germany's Felix Loch leads all competitors.
He finished fourth after the first two heats at Alpensia Sliding Center Saturday night, just 0.0001 away from third place. No American man has won an individual Olympic medal in luge.
Morris said he looks forward to the challenge of returning to the track just 24 hours after his Olympic debut to see if he can finish his first competition at the Games with better runs.
“It’s about getting up on the horse and going out there and trying to make the fourth run,” he said. “That’s really the idea for me right now. … Right now, I’m not stoked on how those runs went, but I can hold my head up high knowing I’ve worked as hard as I have and got to where I am.”
He said the disappointing result didn’t change how he felt about the years of sacrifice and hard work it took just to get to the track in Pyeongchang this weekend.
“Honestly, it’s one of those things you work so hard, for so long, and you finally get to be in this atmosphere," Morris said, “I like to say with the team, ‘We’ve done all the hard work. Now let’s go have some fun.’ This is where we get to display our very best in front of the world, and show what the last four years, and really the last 16 years have been about and the sacrifices and hard work you put in. It pays off."
He was especially grateful that his family made it to South Korea in time to see him compete. His parents and wife arrived the day before he competed, and he was still relishing the news that he’ll be a father in about six months.
“I’ve got some awesome supporters,” he said. “I’ve got four and a half here right now, so it’s really special to have them here. I’m glad they made it safe. It was a rough road for them. It’s just nice to be here, and it feels amazing to be part of this team.” Morris, who said he's proud to be part of Salt Lake's Olympic legacy, will re-group and try to finish as strong as possible on Sunday night.
“I don’t think we were unprepared,” Morris said of himself and Tucker West. “I just think mentally and physically we made some mistakes. It’s tough to swallow that, especially on the biggest stage, right now. But these are learning experiences. These are the things you can take away and make yourself a better person from it. It’s the resiliency of getting back up and doing it again tomorrow.”