From Pyeongchang, KOR
Feb. 12, 2018 – Natalie Geisenberger came into the Women’s Luge event in the 2018 Olympics as the World Cup champion and runaway favorite in a very stacked field. At the halfway point she’s shown some strength, but also has shown she’s not invincible.
Geisenberger set a track record in her first heat to take a .072 second advantage over Canadian Alex Gough. On her second run she was quick, but only third quickest.
That said, she’s the defending gold medalist and your leader at halfway, and according to her the pressure’s off.
“I feel less pressure than in Sochi, said the World Cup champion. “My dream was to win an Olympic gold medal, and now I have two gold medals. If there’s another medal tomorrow it’s good, but if not it’s not the worst case.”
Geisenberger’s German teammate Dajana Eitberger made some small mistakes on her first run, leaving her in seventh place. She fixed those issues and on her second run leapfrogged everyone but Geisenberger, moving into second.
While she was disappointed with her first run, Eitberger was thrilled with her second.
“I had some mistakes out of Curve 9, in 13 to 14, and even in 15, but had a good time still. After that, I thought the time was still close and if I want to have a good result I need to do my best on this second run. I tried to make it better, and what I did worked!”
Gough fell back to third after the second run, but sits only .071 out of silver and .191 out of gold. She was has happy with her runs, but felt like there was time she left out on the track.
“There were a few little mistakes out there, and hopefully I can clean that up and see where I am in the end,” Gough said. “I’m going to come out here and do what I do and look at the results at the end of the day.”
The field is packed most of the way through the top six. Tatjana Hüfner sits third, but has Olympic bronze medalist Erin Hamlin right in her mirror.
Both of Hamlin’s runs were in the top six, and good enough to move her into fifth place, just .040 out of another bronze medal and .236 away from gold.
Rounding out the top six was Kimberley McRae, who fell from fourth to sixth.
“After training I was consistent, but I was slow. I was slow off the start and today I was able to put two starts together. I’m in the mix and I’ll see what happens tomorrow, you just have to treat it like it’s another race.
It was a very mixed day for the Americans, though all three are in the top fifteen. Summer Britcher made a big mistake out of Curve 9 in the first heat, but rallied back to set a track record in the second heat. Though that may be good enough already to qualify her for the Team Relay in a few days, she’s not through with her women’s luge race just yet.
“I really wanted a track record on the first run. To come back from a bad run and to know it didn’t get in my head, it makes it even more special,” Britcher said of her race thus far. “I haven’t given up on this race yet, my plan of attack is to take it one run at a time and let things fall as they may.”
Emily Sweeney sits 15th after a tough second run that dropped her from 11th to 23rd. Canadian Brooke Apshkrum finished her first day of racing in 16th.
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