Following Felix Loch’s triumph in the men’s single luge, fellow German Natalie Geisenberger dominated the women’s event, producing a blistering performance over two days to secure gold.
The 26 year-old bettered her bronze medal from Vancouver 2010, taking the Olympic title from compatriot Tatjana Hüfner, who had to be content with silver. American Erin Hamlin took bronze, and made history by becoming her country’s first Olympic individual medalist in luge.
The day belonged to Geisenberger, though, with the hot pre-Games favourite justifying her status by coming in 1.139 seconds faster than her close rival, posting a combined total time of 3:19.768 for her four runs.
Geisenberger’s fastest run was her third, which saw her cross the line in 49.765 seconds and set a new track record. The reigning world champion, who received that accolade in Whistler last June, made it an almost flawless few days at the Sanki Sliding Center for Germany, following Loch’s victory on Sunday.
The pair shared an embrace after Geisenberger’s victory, and she admitted that the magnitude of her achievement was yet to sink in.
“I still need time to realise completely what I’ve done,” she said. “In the fourth run when I was in the lower part of the course I understood that I had won the Olympic title and almost started to shout in joy before crossing the finishing line.”
Her adaptation to an unfamiliar track was key to earning a victory that she plans to savour. «I’m currently in my best form ever,” she stated. “I adjusted my style for this track though it wasn’t easy to do as after curve five to six it’s pretty tricky.
“I’m amazed. The chance to win Olympic title may not happen again and I’m really happy that I took this occasion to win.»
Hüfner’s silver medal brought up a tricolore for the 30 year-old: as well as her gold in Vancouver, she took bronze at Turin 2006. Hamlin, the 2009 world champion, is no stranger to the history books. Her title in Lake Placid five years put an end to 99 consecutive German wins in World Cup and World Championships races.
The bronze medallist was delighted at an achievement that she hopes will set a standard in her country. «It’s just amazing,” she said. “Before today’s races I didn’t allow excitement to come in. That’s why I didn’t feel any pressure on myself, just tried to have fun enjoying my third and second races.
“Today I was hopefully paving the way for the future generations of American female lugers. And it was super motivating.»