German luge team owns Oberhof as Americans leave with a pair of 7th place results
Britcher in singles and US relay team both 7th on final day
OBERHOF, Germany – On a day of track records, Germany had the final say and left the two days of Viessmann World Cup racing with eight of 12 possible medals. The haul included victories Sunday in women’s singles and the concluding team relay presented by BMW.
USA Luge’s top results of the weekend occurred on the final day as Summer Britcher finished seventh in singles after occupying fourth place after one heat.
It was the same result for the U.S. relay team with Erin Hamlin, Tucker West and the doubles team of Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman, the same quartet that scored a World Championship silver medal a week ago in Igls, Austria.
After Germany, Russia grabbed three medals and Latvia one at this winter sports mecca. Only a week in Oberhof could make athletes look forward to a 13-hour trip to PyeongChang Monday for two weeks of pre-Olympic training and racing. The one-year countdown to the Games officially begins Wednesday, courtesy of the U.S. Olympic Committee and NBC.
Britcher, of Glen Rock, Pa., has raced like a warrior despite a shoulder issue that popped up in November. The U23 World Champion and Sochi Olympian, however, found it difficult matching her first run success.
Hamlin, fresh from a triple medal-winning effort at worlds in Igls, rallied in the final heat to elevate herself from 12th to eighth. With that, the Remsen, N.Y. racer had the single fastest run among USA women and got the relay start.
At the very top of the standings, Germans Natalie Geisenberger and Tatjana Huefner waged an intense battle that started with the latter holding the halfway lead with eyes on a victory that would make her the World Cup’s all-time leading winner.
Both set track records on the day, but Geisenberger’s second heat time of 41.101 seconds was a little quicker, and gave the World Cup leader a victory by 0.001 of a second. It couldn’t be any closer in luge.
Ironically, as the tour has been waiting all season for Huefner to become its’ winningest athlete, Geisenberger is sneaking up on that achievement. At the moment Huefner is tied at 37 victories with Silke Otto, with Geisenberger third on 36.
The winner’s opening leg of 41.287 gave her a combined 1 minute, 22.388 seconds. For Huefner’s silver medal time, the math is very easy. Russian Tatyana Ivanova had the bronze medal time of 1:22.669 on Oberhof’s short, technical track that comes as close to a pure luge layout as exists around the world.
Britcher’s two heats totaled 1:22.960; Hamlin, the four-time World Championship medalist and 2014 Olympic bronze medal winner, registered 1:22.963. She remains in third place in the overall World Cup rankings. Ivanova in fourth and teammate Emily Sweeney in fifth are close behind Hamlin as only PyeongChang and Altenberg remain on the schedule. Britcher is eighth in the season-long tour standings.
Sweeney, of Suffield, Conn., took 12th in 1:23.026, with Raychel Germaine, of Roswell, Ga., timed in 1:24.705 for 24th place and is 17th overall.
USA Luge’s hopes in the team relay were dashed long before Mortensen and Terdiman raced the anchor leg. Hamlin angled toward the right wall and put herself out of position for the beginning of the run. And although he had the fastest reaction time, 2014 Olympian West, of Ridgefield, Conn., had miscues on his run.
Mortensen, of Huntington Station, N.Y., and Terdiman, of Berwick, Pa., both members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team, finished the effort in 2:23.162.
Germans Geisenberger, Felix Loch, and the doubles sled of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, all weekend race winners, nailed the track’s relay record with 2:21.465, topping Russia’s 2:21.695 and Latvia’s 2:21.989.
The result created some upheaval in the overall World Cup standings. Germany remains at the top, but the U.S. drops from second to fourth, with Canada and Russia deadlocked in second place. The good news for the Americans lies in the fact that they are just nine points from second place with two relays to go this season.
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