Loch Leads After 2 Runs in Pyeongchang

From Pyongchang, KOR

Feb. 10, 2018 – The very top of the leaderboard in Men’s Singles is exactly who you would expect. The rest of the top five is a combination of new faces and old names that is shaping up to be a very exciting finish to the first sliding event of the 2018 Olympic Games.

Felix Loch carries a .188 lead over Austrian David Gleirscher going into the second day of sliding in men’s luge. The German two-time Olympic gold medalist was consistent in his two runs to put him in the lead ahead of the relative newcomer and first-time Olympian.

Gleirscher’s career best World Cup finish was fourth (Winterberg, 2017), and the Austrian’s failed to find consistency throughout his young career. But he was fast in all of the training runs leading up to the opening day of action. His first run was on the money, giving him a .022 advantage over Loch going into the second run. That second trip down, however, was only seventh-quickest and dropped him out of the lead into second.

Loch was unfazed by the chance to become a three-time Olympic champion, joining Georg Hackl as the only other athlete to win three Olympic golds.

“I know the history, but now I’ll do it my way. The important thing here is to just get good runs tomorrow,” said Loch.

Behind Loch and Gleirscher, 21 year old Roman Repilov will go into the second day of sliding looking to fend off two veterans in the United States’ Chris Mazdzer and Canada’s Sam Edney, who sit fourth and fifth.

Mazdzer is just one thousandth of a second behind Repilov, putting down the second-quickest run of the second heat to move into contention. And after a long, frustrating season he credits a few fellow athletes in him finding his groove.

Mazdzer has had a frustrating season, with a 21st place run in Lillehammer being the straw that may have broken the camel’s back.

“I hit my low in Lillehammer,” Mazdzer said. “I have a lot of friends from a lot of countries. I reached out and some of them and I was able to lay on some competitors’ sleds to see how it fits, then I went to town, chopping my sled up and putting it back together.”

Mazdzer’s second run was also on a much firmer ice than some of his competitors. The Olympic format for luge has the first sleds go in order of bib number. In the second heat, sleds go in a mixed order, with bib 12 going first down to bib 1, then 26 to 13. Mazdzer was number 13, meaning he’d be going off 26th on what would prove to be harder ice.

“I thought the ice was going to be so hard. The guys ahead of me had a fresh layer of water [after the spritz of the track], and I was so far back it was hard. Luckily my second run was on.”

Just a tenth behind Mazdzer sits Sam Edney, who has said that this Olympics (his fourth) will be his last. Edney was ninth after the first heat, but a fourth-fastest run in the second heat bumped him up to just over a tenth from a podium position after the first day.

Much like Mazdzer, Edney has struggled this season, and much like Mazdzer he now has a chance at an Olympic medal. He credits placing the focus on the PyongChang 2018 Olympics for his success after two heats.

“I think I was just putting a lot of focus this entire year on this one race. Calgary was a good result for me, but I put this on the radar. I know that through the downs of the season I had to remind myself “just enjoy the process”, it was part of the plan. Of course I want to be on the podium every week on World Cup, but this is the goal.”

Mazdzer’s run was the lone bright spot for the United States after two runs, with both Tucker West and Taylor Morris unable to find any consistency on the Korean ice after good runs in practice. West will go into the second day of racing in 18th, while Morris will come into the third run in 23rd.

For Canada, it was a better evening. On top of Edney’s fifth place run, Reid Watts cracked the top ten in tenth place. Mitch Malyk will go into he second day of racing in 16th.

British slider Adam Rosen moved up from 25th to 24th after his second heat, while teammate Rupert Staudinger sits 33rd after two heats.

Men’s luge continues on Sunday evening at 8:00 PM KST (6:00 AM EST).

Results after two heats:

Pos Name Nation Bib Run 1 Run 2 Total
1 Felix Loch GER 5 47.674 47.625 1:35.299
2 David Gleirscher AUT 11 47.652 47.835 1:35.487
3 Roman Repilov OAR 6 47.776 47.740 1:35.516
4 Chris Mazdzer USA 13 47.800 47.717 1:35.517
5 Samuel Edney CAN 19 47.862 47.755 1:35.617
6 Kevin Fischnaller ITA 14 47.853 47.793 1:35.646
7 Kristers Aparjods LAT 8 47.822 47.834 1:35.656
8 Johahnnes Ludwig GER 3 47.764 47.940 1:35.704
9 Wolfgang Kindl AUT 2 47.955 47.858 1:35.813
10 Reid Watts CAN 24 47.960 47.895 1:35.855
11 Dominik Fischnaller ITA 4 47.930 47.967 1:35.897
12 Andi Langenhan GER 10 48.083 47.850 1:35.933
13 Stepan Fedorov OAR 22 48.035 47.936 1:35.971
14 Emanuel Rieder ITA 20 48.040 48.048 1:36.088
15 Reinhard Egger AUT 7 48.221 47.903 1:36.124
16 Mitchel Malyk CAN 25 48.075 48.050 1:36.125
17 Semen Pavlichenko OAR 1 48.337 47.923 1:36.260
18 Tucker West USA 9 48.484 47.942 1:36.426
19 Maciej Kurowski POL 26 48.103 48.467 1:36.570
20 Ondrej Hyman CZE 16 48.324 48.276 1:36.600
21 Inars Kivlenieks LAT 17 48.274 48.370 1:36.644
22 Alex Ferlazzo AUS 27 48.073 48.587 1:36.660
23 Taylor Morris USA 23 48.072 48.793 1:36.865
24 Adam Rosen GBR 31 48.477 48.410 1:36.887
25 Arturs Darznieks LAT 21 48.305 48.671 1:36.976
26 Valentin Cretu ROU 18 49.030 49.085 1:37.115
27 Anton Dukach UKR 35 48.888 48.307 1:37.195
28 Mateusz Sochowicz POL 15 49.047 48.203 1:37.250
29 Jozef Ninis SVK 12 47.833 50.014 1:37.847
30 Andrei Turea ROU 39 49.482 48.489 1:37.971
31 Namkyu Lim KOR 29 49.461 48.591 1:38.052
32 Giorgi Sogoiani GEO 36 49.300 49.151 1:38.451
33 Rupert Staudinger GBR 34 49.626 49.259 1:38.885
34 Shiva Keshavan IND 37 50.578 48.710 1:39.288
35 Jakub Simonak SVK 33 51.724 48.690 1:40.414
36 Nikita Kopyrenko KAZ 40 50.147 50.327 1:40.474
37 Pavel Angelov BUL 28 51.569 49.449 1:41.018
38 Te-An Lien TPE 38 52.121 51.472 1:43.593
39 Tilen Sirse SLO 30 49.887 58.776 1:48.663
40 Andriy Mandziy UKR 32 62.935 48.473 1:51.408