Olympic champion at 20 Felix Loch was only 18 when, in 2008, he became luge’s youngest ever world champion in Oberhof (GER). A year later he set a new world luge speed record of 153.9 kmh at Whistler Sliding Centre, the same venue where, at Vancouver 2010, he posted the fastest time in each of the four legs of the Olympic competition. In doing so, he became, at the age of 20, the youngest ever gold medallist in a sport that first appeared on the Winter Games programme at Innsbruck 1964.
One for the futureThe man Loch succeeded as Olympic champion, Italy’s Armin Zöggeler, who won gold at Salt Lake City 2002 and Turin 2006, reacted to the German’s victory in Vancouver by predicting a very bright future for him: “He’s a good kid and a very young champion. He’s got a special talent too. You’re going to hear a lot about him in these next few years.”
Zöggeler’s prediction was spot on, as Loch followed up his Olympic triumph in extraordinary style, completing World Cup/World Championship doubles in 2012 and 2013 and racking up a staggering 14 wins on the international circuit in the same period.
The appliance of scienceOne of Loch’s strengths lies in his scientific approach to his sport: “You really have to be able to understand physics in order to correctly identify and evaluate the key factors in each race, such as the impact of gravitational force – the load acting on my body in relation to speed and changes in direction. You also have to feel good on your luge and find the position that is going to work for you after months of preparation.” These are all aspects that he works on regularly in a wind tunnel owned by a major German car manufacturer. Loch also has the perfect build for the sport, standing 1.91 metres tall and weighing 95 kg, and has the ability to create a mental bubble when competing and maintain his focus.
A double in SochiLoch’s Olympic title defence at Sochi 2014 began with him trailing to Russian veteran Albert Demchenko after the first leg. The German came back to dominate the final three legs, however, retaining his crown in comfortable fashion from his two forty-something challengers, with Demchenko finishing 0.476 back in second and Zoeggeler 1.271 seconds off the pace in third. “It really was difficult in Russia, against Albert and Armin,” explained Loch afterwards. “I feel very relieved right now.”
There was more to come from the insatiable German in Sochi, as he teamed up with compatriots Natalie Geisenberger, Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt to win the new team relay event and land another gold.
More to comeIn 2014, Loch won the FIL World Cup for the third year running, to add to his three Olympic gold medals and eight world titles (four in the singles and four in the relay event), meaning that, at the age of just 24, the German could already boast one of the most remarkable career records that luge has ever seen. With many years of competition still ahead of him, he can surely expect to add yet more accolades to that impressive list.