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Natalie Geisenberger defends luge gold, extends German reign

Geisenberger defends luge gold, extends German reign
By Reuters

13/02/2018 at 14:15Updated 13/02/2018 at 15:06

German luge queen Natalie Geisenberger claimed her second successive Olympic gold medal in the women's singles on Tuesday to extend her nation's stranglehold over the event to 20 years.

The 30-year-old policewoman roared home to victory, claiming her third Olympic title overall with a flawless pair of runs at Pyeongchang's Olympic Sliding Centre.

The medal returned the smiles to the faces of the German camp, who were crestfallen on Sunday after defending men's champion Felix Loch crashed out of the medal positions with a horror final run.

Watch every minute of PyeongChang 2018 on the Eurosport Player

Geisenberger did most of the hard work in her first three runs to set up a considerable gap on her long-time rival Tatjana Huefner and ended up winning at a canter ahead of silver medal-winning compatriot Dajana Eitberger.

Canada's Alex Gough took the bronze, four years after being heartbroken with a pair of fourth-place finishes in Sochi.

Dajana Eitberger, Natalie Geisenberger and Alex Gough

Dajana Eitberger, Natalie Geisenberger and Alex GoughGetty Images

Amid gusty winds and snow flurries, Geisenberger built on her slender overnight lead with a blazing third run of 46.28 seconds, piloting her sled with model German efficiency.

As a statement, it was almost as loud as the rowdy finish-line terrace, and none of her rivals came close to answering it.

Second overnight, Eitberger's challenge stumbled with a bumpy third ride but Vancouver champion Huefner gave Geisenberger something to think about.

The 34-year-old veteran strapped on her helmet with a face of thunder before firing down the track to slot in just behind Geisenberger ahead of the fourth and final run.

The 0.319-second gap was still a mountain to climb, however, and it was Eitberger rather than Huefner who threw caution to the wind to soar up the timesheets.

It did precisely nothing to rattle Geisenberger who simply buckled down in the night's final run to become the most decorated woman luger with her fourth Olympic medal.

Erin Hamlin, the United States' first Olympic medal winner in luge, bowed out of the sport with a sixth-place finish in her fourth and final Games.

A day after the anniversary of the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died in a training accident before the Vancouver opening ceremony, a heavy crash by American Emily Sweeney sent a scare through the venue.

Sweeney lost control and bounced off the sides of the track before losing her sled and hammering into a wall.

She lay motionless for a few moments before being helped off the track by medical staff and the final run was suspended for about 10 minutes.

After a long inspection by trainers, she got to her feet and walked groggily away, raising a cheer from spectators and relieved clapping from team mates at the finish.

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