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|