Natalie Geisenberger defends Olympic title in women’s singles luge

Gold: Natalie Geisenberger (Germany)
Silver: Dajana Eitberger (Germany)
Bronze: Alex Gough (Canada)

Two days after Germany’s Felix Loch faltered in his final run of the men’s singles luge — falling from first to fifth — another German athlete had no such problem. Natalie Geisenberger put together four near-flawless runs to win the women’s singles luge in PyeongChang, earning her second consecutive gold in the event. It was Germany’s sixth straight gold in the event. 

Germany took the top two spots as Dajana Eitberger finished 0.367 seconds behind Geisenberger to win silver, and Alex Gough of Canada won bronze — this, after taking fourth in Sochi. 

American Erin Hamlin, who won bronze in 2014, finished sixth. Summer Britcher finished 19th and Emily Sweeney was unable to finish after crashing for Team USA.

Full results can be found here.

Geisenberger led by 0.120 seconds over Eitberger after Runs 1 and 2, and extended her lead over the final two runs. After Loch, who was the two-time defending Olympic champion in men’s singles, had the worst run of his Olympics with the gold on the line, there was reason for Geisenberger fans to be somewhat nervous. She wiped away those nerves with each successful turn. She slid brilliantly, clacking down the course smoothly and efficiently. The 6-footer won in dominant fashion. The only way anyone was going to beat her was if she made a mistake — and she wasn’t making a mistake on this night.

Her fellow German lugers didn’t disappoint, either. The country that has dominated the sport since its introduction to the Olympics in 1964 is back on track after Loch’s surprising finish. Germany now has three medals in PyeongChang — Johannes Ludwig won bronze for Germany in men’s singles. Huefner was fourth heading into Day 2 of the women’s competition, but vaulted into second with a brilliant third run. 

Hamlin led the way for the U.S., just like she did in Sochi, but it wasn’t enough for a medal this time around. The door was open for Hamlin to make a run at a medal, but Hamlin had trouble at the start on Run 3. It ended up costing her nearly a tenth of a second, which is almost insurmountable in the luge.   

Britcher, who set a course record on her second run, moved from ninth after two runs to 12th at the end of the competition after a brutal start to her fourth run. Sweeney, who was making her first Olympic appearance, was in a brutal crash in her final run. She was unable to finish the run, and was helped off the course by medical officials. The fall delayed the event for several minutes, but she was able to walk off the course under her own power to the cheers of teammates. 

Once competition resumed, this day belonged to Geisenberger and Germany. It’s a recurring theme on the luge course at the Olympic Games, and it has been for years. 

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