News / Europe

Germany Remains Dominant in Luge in Sochi

The silver medal team from Russia, (l) gold medal team from Germany, center, and bronze medal team from Latvia (r) pose with flowers after the luge team relay competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
The silver medal team from Russia, (l) gold medal team from Germany, center, and bronze medal team from Latvia (r) pose with flowers after the luge team relay competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Mike Richman
Germany ended the sixth day of competition at the Sochi Games Thursday by leaving no doubt which country sports the best luge athletes.

Natalie Geisenberger, Felix Loch and the pairing of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt won the first-ever Olympic luge team relay, as heavy favorite Germany crafted a gold medal sweep of the four luge events in Sochi.

The win lifted Germany into the gold medal lead at the Sochi Games with seven.

The luge team relay involves one women's singles, one men's singles and one doubles run.

In skiing, American freestylers dominated the first-ever Olympic slopestyle competition, sweeping the top three spots.  Joss Christensen won the gold medal, with Gus Kenworthy taking silver and Nicholas Goepper earning bronze.

Also Thursday, China took its spot on the medals board by winning two gold medals in women's speedskating.  Li Jianrou won the short track 500-meter race, and Zhang Hong took the 1,000-meter event.

Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk won gold in the women's 10-kilometer cross country skiing race, and sharp-shooting French biathlete Martin Fourcade won the 20-kilometer individual gold.

On the ice, the top men's hockey teams - Russia, the United States and Canada - played for the first time in the Sochi Games Thursday.  Russia beat Slovenia, 5-2, the U.S. routed Slovakia, 7-1, and Canada topped Norway, 3-1.

Star Russian Skater Backs Out

In other news, Russian figure skater Evgeny Plushenko pulled out of the men's individual figure skating competition Thursday.  Plushenko, a two-time gold medalist, was seen clutching his back during warmups, before he announced his withdrawal from the event.

He later said he is retiring from figure skating.

Meanwhile, the head of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, said he is not worried about the unseasonably warm temperatures that have been melting snow and ice in and around Sochi.

Temperatures in Sochi have been hitting about 17 degrees Celsius in recent days.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Bach recalled even warmer conditions at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary.

"It's not as warm yet as it was in Calgary at the time, where I remembered going around the last days of the Games in a T-shirt," Bach said.  "It was about 25 degrees Celsius, so the situation so far is under control.  The organizing committee together with the international federations is working very, very hard.  There is still storage of snow and so far it is going well."

Olympic Worker Injured

Bach also said the accident of an Olympic track worker struck by a bobsled was not related to other accidents caused by sloppy conditions created by the warm weather.

The worker was on the track when he was hit by a forerunning sled, just before the start of Thursday's two-man bobsled training.

Olympic officials said he broke both legs and may have a concussion.

"It's a worker being in the braking zone of the bob, and we do not know why he was there in this zone," Bach said. "This you cannot compare with any incident with an athlete."

After six days of competition in Sochi, Norway leads in the overall medal count with 13, followed by the United States and the Netherlands with 12.  Russia has 11, and Canada and Germany have 10 each.

There are 98 medal events at the Sochi Games, 12 more than in Vancouver in 2010.

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