Exciting climax as Arlt and Wendl win second consecutive doubles luge gold
Germany duo Tobias Arlt and Tobias Wendl secured a second successive victory in the Olympic Winter Games men’s open doubles luge, and the German team a gold and bronze double, at the Alpensia Sliding Centre on Wednesday 14 February at PyeongChang 2018.
Art and Wendl were joined by compatriots and reigning world champions Sascha Benecken and Toni Eggert on the podium, just as they had been at Sochi 2014. The victors were forced to find their best form after Austria duo Peter Penz and Georg Fischler, who finished in the silver medal position, had clocked a combined time of 131. 785 seconds to take the lead with only the reigning champions left to race.
Art and Wendl withstood the pressure and clocked an impressive second run which was enough to see them win by just 0.088 seconds.
Germany have now won two out of three of the luge titles at PyeongChang 2018, following Natalie Geisenberger's second successive triumph in the women's singles on Tuesday 13 February.
Wendl and Arlt have trailed Eggert and Benecken throughout the World Cup season, the latter winning 19 out of 25 races, but they stunned their compatriots with a sizzling opening run of 45.820 seconds to top the timesheets.
Penz and Fischler also threw down the gauntlet with a blazing first effort to leave Eggert and Benecken third at the interval.
That was how the podium positions remained as Wendl and Arlt summoned up their Olympic experience to continue Germany's dominance of the event.
German athletes have now won 11 out of 15 of the doubles golds in luge dating back to the 1964 Innsbruck Games.
They also ensure a record-equalling fifth gold medal for Germany in this event at the Olympic Winter Games, set by the then German Democratic Republic.
“I was super proud in Sochi in 2014 and now I think it will take a day or two to realise [what we have achieved],” explained Wendl who, together with Arlt, forms part of only the third pair to successfully defend their title in this event, after Austrian brothers Andreas and Wolfgang Linger in 2006 and 2010, and Hans Rinn and Norbert Hahn [GDR] in 1976 and 1980.
It's four years [of work] for this event, and this is the important one for us. There's so much hard work in it and so many hours of training, blood and sweat, and now we're Olympic champions again.Tobias Wendl Germany
“I can't describe the words that I'm feeling,” agreed Arlt. “We're Olympic champions again and so happy, it's just amazing, indescribable.”
“We saw the times and they were very, very fast,” said Arlt on having to wait while watching the competitors run before them. “The track, and our runs, were good. The first was generally perfect and on the second run, even though we made a mistake on [curve] 15, we were on top.”
Hard work pays off
Austrian duo Penz and Fischler, both 33 years old, admitted to feeling pride at winning the silver medal.
“We knew that the Germans are really fast here and it's good for us to get second,” said Penz. His partner agreed. “It's awesome. We had a chance in Sochi but now the four hard years have paid off for us,” said Fischler. “Now we got it, it's perfect. This was really great for us, we had awesome races, good races and today everything was good for us.”
German duo Eggert and Benecken, who had started as favourites, were happy to secure bronze.
“We're very proud,” said Eggert. “An Olympic medal is one thing you could imagine millions of people dream of. We're not the youngest, but not the oldest, I think in four years, we want to try (for) maybe the gold medal.”
“Maybe we started as the favourites but often the favourites don't come to the finish with the medal or with the good run,” said Benecken. “Last year we worked very well to this point and we got the race we wished for.”