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VANCOUVER2010

Germany takes gold and silver in men’s luge

Felix Loch won Winter Olympics gold in the men's singles luge on Sunday to lead a German 1-2 with compatriot David Möller finishing second and Italy's Armin Zöggeler third.

Germany takes gold and silver in men's luge
Photo: DPA

Loch, the 2008 and 2009 world champion, ended with a huge winning margin and his time over the four runs was 3 minutes and 13.085 seconds, while Möller missed out after finishing 0.679 seconds behind as Zöggeler claimed bronze at 1.290 seconds back.

Having been crowned world champion aged 18 in 2008, the German is now the youngest-ever men’s singles champion on both the global and Olympic stage and he was flawless during testing times at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

The 20-year-old dominated from the first of the four heats and posted the fastest speed of 147.5km/ph (91.6 mph) on his first competitive run.

“Frankly, I am just happy to have won the gold, it is an amazing, amazing feeling,” he said. “I never thought it was possible I could win gold at the age of 20.”

Loch, whose father Norbert is the German team coach, was helped in his training by luge legend Georg Hackl, who won a hat-trick of gold medals in his career at Albertville 1992, Lillehammer 1994 and Nagano 1998.

“The help of George made a big difference. He deserves part of the success for my medal,” said Loch, who like Hackl, is from the Berchtesgaden region of Bavaria.

But the event was over-shadowed by Friday’s tragic death of 21-year-old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili.

Silver-medallist Möller paid tribute to Loch during such testing circumstances.

“After the tragic accident and the change of the start of the course, it was not easy for all of us,” said the 28-year-old. “(The tragic death) is always there, a lot of teammates say they can’t look at the pictures of the accident, but I did to help come to terms with it. It was a dark day for the sport, we were all sat in the village restaurant in silence that night. It still runs through your mind during the quiet moments.”

Despite the tragedy, Loch was not to be denied and having held a 0.282-second lead overnight from Saturday’s two runs, he turned the screw on Sunday.

The German blitzed the third run in a time of 48.344 seconds to open up a 0.52 second gap over Möller while Zöggeler, who failed to win his third consecutive gold medal in the singles, languished more than a second behind.

As the last competitor to go in the fourth and final heat, Loch only extended his lead to write himself into luge folklore.

In 2008, he became the youngest-ever world champion when he won gold aged just 18 and now at 20 years and 205 days he is the youngest athlete to claim a Winter Olympic gold medal in the men’s singles.

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VANCOUVER2010

Germany’s women speed skaters take gold – just

Germany edged out Japan to win the Olympic Games women's speed skating team pursuit title on Saturday, but only after golden girl Anni Friesinger-Postma had crawled comically across the line in the semi-finals.

Germany's women speed skaters take gold - just
Friesinger-Postma crashes. Photo: DPA

Racing against the US, the 33-year-old stumbled on the final lap before slipping headfirst along the Richmond Oval ice and then crawling across the final 25 metres to get over the line, just 0.23sec ahead of the Americans.

Click here for a photo gallery of Anni Friesinger-Postma’s spectacular spill.

In the final, the Japanese team led the Germans for five laps as Stephanie Beckert, Daniela Anschütz Thomas and Katrin Mattscherodt trailed by more than a second.

But in the final 600 metres Germany turned up the heat and crossed the line in 3min 2.82sec to take gold by just 0.02sec.

The Japanese team of Masako Hozumi, Nao Kodaira and Maki Tabata took silver with Poland claiming bronze.

“My feelings are up and down. It was like a carousel. I nearly messed it up,” said Friesinger-Postma.

“I thought, ‘No, No, I’m falling’. I thought I messed up for the team. I yelled but no one heard me, so I just kept on going.”

In the men’s event, Canada’s Denny Morrison, Lucas Makowsky and Mathieu Giroux took the pursuit gold, their country’s first speed skating medal of the Games.

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