Germany's Loch inches closer to golden hat-trick in luge
German luger Felix Loch looks to emulate the triple gold medal-winning feat of his mentor, the great Georg Hackl, as he leads the way into the final after a drama-filled qualifier at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
A record-equalling third successive gold medal is within Felix Loch’s reach after the German luge great topped the time-sheets in an incident-packed opening session of the men's singles.
The 28-year-old, bidding to match his mentor Georg Hackl's golden hat-trick in the 1990s, steered his sled with precision as his nearest rivals battled for control at the Olympic Sliding Centre track.
Surprisingly pipped by David Gleirscher (AUT) in the opening run, Loch found extra pace in his second to leapfrog his competitor with an aggregate time of one minute 35.299 seconds.
As in Sochi four years ago and Vancouver in 2010, Loch enters the final runs in the gold-medal position.
“I would say I did everything right. (On Monday) the weather forecast is a little bit colder than today, so safety first,” he said.
Unheralded Austrian challenges
Loch, who also won a relay gold in Sochi, had expected his main threats to come from Austrian wunderkind Wolfgang Kindl, or Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR) pair Roman Repilov and Semen Pavlichenko.
Instead the unheralded Gleirscher, a 23-year-old police officer, made a big early statement before a couple of minor bumps knocked him off pace in his second run.
“It was absolutely a top feeling (to lead),” the burly Austrian said. “The first run is great for the confidence, with such great speed. I hope I bring that back tomorrow.”
Repilov will return in the bronze medal position with surprise package Chris Mazdzer of the USA only 0.001 seconds off the podium positions.
World champion Kindl was a ninth, while Pavlichenko lies nearly a second off the pace in 17th, his medal hopes appearing all but shot.
As part of a format change, the field will be shaved down to the fastest 20 for the decisive fourth and final run.