Germany's luge relay team rumbled to the country's third sliding gold at PyeongChang 2018 at the Alpensia Sliding Centre thanks to a combined track record time of 2:24.517.
Germany had already won gold in the women’s singles and men’s doubles, plus bronze in the men’s singles, and their relay victory on Thursday 15 February saw them claim a second successive team gold, to follow their dominance at Sochi 2014.
Women’s singles champion Natalie Geisenberger, a double gold medal winner four years ago in Sochi, got them off to an excellent start before second rider Johannes Ludwig kept them ahead of Canada. Men’s doubles champions Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, who won a second successive men’s open doubles title on Wednesday 14 February, sealed the victory with a seamless third run.
The Canada team – consisting of Alex Gough, women’s singles bronze medal winner, alongside Sam Edney, Tristan Walker and Justin Smith – had earlier set a new track record with three teams to run. They finished in the silver medal position at the expense of Austria who won bronze. USA finished fourth.
As well as claiming the inaugural team relay gold in Sochi four years ago, Germany also swept the gold medals in men’s singles, women’s singles and doubles in 2014. Germany have also claimed the team relay title at all three editions of the Luge World Championships since the 2014 Olympics.
Back on the podium
Both Ludwig and Geisenberger were delighted to win a second medal at PyeongChang 2018. Ludwig in particular, who missed qualification for both Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014, was delighted to add to his gold. “The whole story is very special for me, I was fighting, fighting, fighting and now I made it and get two medals,” he said.
“There were very hard days for me, two times I was in fourth position and three guys qualified from our team [for 2010 and 2014],” added the 32-year-old.
I thought about quitting, but this sport is fun, and that's why I decided to carry on. These days are awesome, really awesome. My first Olympic Winter Games, two medals, no more words needed.Johannes Ludwig Germany
“It's really amazing to stand again on the podium, on the top,” agreed Geisenberger, who won her fifth Olympic luge medal. She now trails only Italy’s Armin Zoeggeler, who won six. “To get the gold medal again… it's just great.”
That winning feeling
Silver medallists Walker, Snith, Edney and Gough explained how it felt when they crossed the line, and also when their place on the podium was confirmed, to secure a second luge medal for Canada inside 48 hours.
“There's a break between punching the clock at the end and knowing where you finish,” said Snith. “As soon as I saw my teammates celebrating it was just like the biggest weight off my shoulders, especially after a long four years.”
“That was the moment that I think the four of us were just overwhelmed,” added Edney. “We each did our job, we each put a great run down. I think we knew we had a chance to be up there. It's amazing. It's the moment that we were all dreaming of, and wanting, forever.”
Driven by disappointment
“We've been working with the heartbreak of Sochi, and to finally capitalise not only bronze but silver is amazing,” said Walker of banishing the disappointment experienced four years earlier, when Canada finished fourth. Gough agreed.
“We basically committed to the four years right after Sochi” said the 30-year-old. “Sam [Edney] and I definitely needed some other focuses to be able to come back here as fresh as possible and with as much motivation as possible. To pull it through with these guys is so incredible. This is the best.”
Austrian David Gleirscher, who won gold in the men’s singles, added that it was ‘unbelievable’ to add a second medal. “I would have been totally happy with one bronze medal; this is just magic,” he said.
“One gold, one bronze, it's unbelievable what has happened in PyeongChang. Our whole team performed well, everyone brought down a good run, it is the only way it is possible. All of our three medals were special but the team one, it says something very special.”