At the end of a dramatic morning in the women’s singles luge competition, gold medal winner Merle Malou Fraebel (GER) was hugged by her parents. The celebrations followed soon after.
“They just told me that they are really happy for me and that they love me,” Fraebel said.
High emotions at the St. Moritz Olympia Bob Run were understandable. In the day’s final run, Fraebel nudged ahead of her German teammate Jessica Doreen Degenhardt, clocking up a total time of 1 minute, 49.687 seconds over two runs. At her fastest, she reached speeds of 126.9km per hour.
Degenhardt was only 0.208 seconds slower, while Russia’s Diana Loginova finished third in 1:49.966s.
“I cannot believe it,” Fraebel said. “Already during the training runs I had a good feeling about today. It is great to be standing on the podium together with Jessica.”
Degenhardt was just as pleased with her silver medal. The 17-year-old has sacrificed much to be at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
“I’m going to school and I train every day, once or twice,” she said. “Then I do school in the afternoon. I’m in a sports school so everybody is supportive, my teachers and friends, and family.
“I love the pressure and the feeling of going down the track. It’s so smooth. I like it, but I don’t know why I like it. It’s like flying.”
There was no time to relax for Degenhardt, however. Having claimed one medal, her attentions were immediately fixed on a second.
On Saturday she races in the women’s doubles competition with her teammate Vanessa Schneider (GER).
“I want to win a medal tomorrow too because it’s the first ladies’ doubles competition in the Olympic Games,” she said. “I want to write history.
“I wrote my history today. I want world history tomorrow.”
In attendance for Germany’s impressive performances was Tatjana Huefner, the luge women’s singles gold medallist at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and a current Athlete Role Model.
“Germany has a very strong team,” she said of Fraebel and Degenhardt’s success. “Every training session is being regarded as a competition.
“The athletes know how to deal with the pressure because of that. I think that makes the German lugers so strong.”