By James Pearson
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Germany continued its domination of the Olympic luge competition with victory in the team relay event on Thursday as Canada took the silver medal and Austria bronze.
Germany won three of the four luge events in Pyeongchang following Natalie Geisenberger’s triumph in the women’s singles and victory in the men’s doubles by the Bayern Express pair of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt.
“When I had four medals – or three – it was also OK. We have six now and it’s a very very big success for us,” German head coach Norbert Loch told Reuters.
“We have six all together, two bronze and one silver. I have a strong team. If one doesn’t get a medal, the next one’s on the podium.”
Geisenberger and another fast run by Johannes Ludwig put the relay team in a strong position and doubles gold medalists Wendl and Arlt thundered down the ice to secure victory.
But it was the early runs of the night that caused the most drama.
The banks and curves of the new track at Pyeongchang caught Ukraine’s Olena Shkhumova off guard as she hit a wall early, and was only just able to reach the elevated pad at the end of the track with her fingertips to start team mate Anton Dukach’s run.
A good race from Team USA had put a medal within reach, but a fast run from Canadian doubles pair Tristan Walker and Justin Snith sent their team to the top of the timed rankings with just Austria and Germany left to go.
An unexpectedly slow Austrian time bumped Canada into silver position, firing up the mainly-Canadian crowd at the finish line.
It was the second time the luge relay took place at the Winter Games after the event made its debut in Sochi four years ago.
(Reporting by James Pearson, editing by Ed Osmond)