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Loch wins battle of heavyweights to claim another luge gold

09/02/2014

Germany’s Felix Loch saw off the challenges of his two main rivals at the Sanki Sliding Centre to retain the Olympic men’s luge title that he won in Vancouver in 2010, confirming his status as the world’s best slider.

Joining Loch on a legend-laden podium, Russia’s Albert Demchenko marked his record-equalling seventh Olympic Games with the silver, while Armin Zöggeler of Italy  Olympic champion in 2002 and 2006 maintained his record of making every luge podium since 1994 by claiming the bronze to take his overall Olympic medal tally to six.

With the competition taking place over four runs two on Saturday and two on Sunday, Loch’s natural speed was too much for his two fortysomething rivals.

He finished with a combined time of 3min 27.526 secs, 0.476 seconds ahead of 42-year-old Demchenko, and 1.271 seconds ahead of the 40-year-old Zöggeler.

 

Time on his side

“It was very difficult, in Russian territory, against Russia and against Armin,” added Loch. “I'm so relieved now."

Demchenko, who confirmed that he would be a coach by the time the next Winter Games come around, put the magnitude of Loch’s performance in context:

“In sliding sports to be winning by four tenths of a second after only three runs is impossible,” he said.

The Russian had posted the fastest time in the first run but ended up more than three tenths behind Loch in the second, with the German extending his lead further over the final two runs.

Meanwhile, Zöggeler, whose feat of winning medals in six different editions of the Winter Games is a new first, confirmed that he would not be seeking to add further to his tally: “This will definitely be my last,” he said.

For Loch, though, time is very much on his side. The eight-time world champion is still just 24, and has the potential to rule his sport for decades to come.

He remains one gold short of his coach Georg Hackl, who won three in a row from Albertville in 1992 to Nagano in 1998, sandwiched between silvers at Calgary 1988 and Salt Lake City 2002.

However the 24-year-old though says he feels no pressure to emulate that achievement, and is content to create his own legacy. "I try to go my own way and leave my own footprints," he said.

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