Vintage Geisenberger Eases To First Gold

by
Reuters
Germany's Natalie Geisenberger was in a class of her own, smashing the track record for the second time at the Sochi Games to secure a commanding victory in the women's luge and her first Olympic title on Tuesday.

* Geisenberger secures German luge double

* Huefner follows 2010 gold with silver medal

* American Hamlin takes bronze

Germany's Natalie Geisenberger was in a class of her own, smashing the track record for the second time at the Sochi Games to secure a commanding victory in the women's luge and her first Olympic title on Tuesday.

Geisenberger's superiority was such that she was the only slider to clock under 50 seconds - a feat she managed on three of her four runs.

Her dominant performance easily eclipsed the Vancouver Olympic champion and compatriot Tatjana Huefner, who settled for silver, while an emotional Erin Hamlin won bronze, the first ever medal by an American luger in singles.

"Runs one, two and three were nearly perfect," said Geisenberger.

"The feeling was that I could make a little mistake (on her fourth and final run) and still win - that was a good feeling."

Germany, who also celebrated gold on Monday when Felix Loch successfully defended his men's title, has won 12 of the 15 available medals in the women's event from 1998, including all five golds.

Geisenberger, 26, belongs to the same Berchtesgaden training group, along with Loch, that comes under the wing of three-time Olympic champion Georg Hackl in the German luge mecca of Koenigssee in Bavaria.

She came into the Games having dominated the World Cup circuit, winning seven of eight events this season, and she set the tone on Monday with a track record on her first run.

Geisenberger won the bronze four years ago and her only problem in scorching to gold this time appeared to have been a shoe malfunction before the start on the first day.

"Someone had to pull it off my foot and I put another one on," she said.

With a commanding lead from day one, Geisenberger returned to the Sanki Siding Centre on Tuesday and promptly set another track record, this time a 49.765 seconds blitz.

With gold in her grasp, she did not have to push with her final slide and eased to victory by 1.139 seconds - the third biggest margin in women's singles since luge was introduced at the Games in 1964.

Hamlin, who put an end to Germany's 12-year world championship reign in 2009, was thrilled to reach the podium.

"I was the first American to win the worlds and now I've done this, I hope it paves the way for a new generation of female American lugers," she said.

"I haven't turned my phone on for 24 hours, when I do it's going to explode.