From St. Moritz, SUI
Feb. 7, 2021 – The final day of sliding for the FIL World Cup women’s luge series was by far the most unpredictable, with heavy snow falling into the wide-open track in St. Moritz. It was in those snowy conditions in which the women held their final race of the 2020/2021 campaign.
At times the snow let up, and that’s when the women were able to go a little faster. Latvia’s Kendija Aparjode led after the first heat, with Germany’s Cheyenne Rosenthal and Natalie Maag just behind her in second and third. The top eight sliders after the first heat had all gone either from starting positions one to four, or 13 to 16. On the other hand, contenders like Julia Taubitz, Natalie Geisenberger, and Summer Britcher all found themselves well out of the lead due to heavier snow around their runs later in the heat.
On the second run the snow picked up early, and with that times were significantly slower. But just as the top ten came up the snow let up , and that gave Julia Taubitz relatively ideal sliding conditions as she put down a time well ahead of anyone else to that point. Her lead held for four sleds until Latvia’s Elina Vitola took over with a clean run in the clearest conditions the track had seen all day.
Just after Vitola’s run the snow began to pick back up. While Lisa Schulte couldn’t hold a spot in the top six, Natalie Maag was able to put herself in bronze medal position with just two sleds to go. The snow got heavier, and with that the chances for either Cheyenne Rosenthal or Kendija Aparjode to get on the podium went away.
Elina Vitola took away the gold medal in just her seventh World Cup race, ahead of Taubitz and Maag, who finished with a silver and bronze, respectively.
Despite the craziness, Germany still had a strong showing. Dajana Eitberger and Cheyenne Rosenthal finished fourth and fifth to put three Geran sleds in the top five, while Latvia’s Aparjode finished sixth.
Due to the snow, Natalie Geisenberger wasn’t a factor in the race for the podium, but her 13th place finish was more than enough to win her an eighth World Cup title, just nine months after giving birth to her first son. Julia Taubitz finished second overall with the most wins on the season, while Dajana Eitberger finished third in the overall standings.
Summer Britcher was the top finisher for the United States in the snow. She moved up from a snowy 19th place to 15th with a strong second run. Emily Sweeney ran through a small pile of snow on the edge of the track on her second run to fall from 12th to 18th. Ashley Farquharson and Brittney Arndt rounded out the American effort in 24th and 26th, respectively.
Ukrainian athletes Olena Stetskiv and Yulianna Tunytska couldn’t get to the track in time for the race due to road closures between their hotel and the track.
|Pos||Name||Nation||Bib||Start 1||Start 2||Run 1||Run 2||Total|