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Olympic Luge Competition Ends - 2002-02-16

The final luge event of the Winter Olympics, the doubles, was held Friday at Utah Olympic Park.

It was Germans Patric-Fritz Leitner and Alexander Resch winning the gold medal in doubles luge, but the United States won the silver and bronze medals.

Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin, bronze medallists at the last Olympics, won the silver this time, 0.134 seconds behind the winning Germans for the two runs down the icy chute. The Germans set a track record in their first run (42.953), with an average speed of 76-point-two kilometers per hour.

Through a translator, Resch even used an English word to describe his experience. "This is a great feeling to share the podium with the athletes from the United States, and I can just say one word, it was all 'super,'" he said.

Mark Grimmette said the partisan fans really helped. "It was an excellent day for racing and the American fans were just awesome. Having their support out there was pretty important to us. And it was just a wonderful day," he said.

Grimmette's teammates Chris Thorpe and Clay Ives took the bronze medal. Thorpe had won the silver at the last Olympics with partner Gordy Sheer, who has retired.

Even with his experience, Thorpe said he was tense. "Let's just say I've never been more nervous in my life," he said. "And I don't think I can be that nervous again ever. So to get through today and actually grab medal with Clay, it's just a great feeling. Sliding for 15,000 people and showing everyone what we can do with these sleds and show our ability it was just so rewarding and gratifying."

Thorpe's partner, Clay Ives, has dual citizenship between Canada and the United States and he competed for Canada at the last two Olympics. But because of financial limitations within the Canadian sports system, Ives decided to switch allegiances. And he said he's now proud to be an American medallist. "As we all know, Olympic athletes have to set goals and do the things they have to do along the way to meet those goals," he said. And I've been in two previous Olympics with Canada. My goals weren't even close to being met. And it was a decision to retire or to go forward and make some big decisions. Thank God that the United States Luge Association took a chance on me, and I worked my way onto the team. And I can't express in words how happy I am to be here and to have had the honor to slide with Chris [Thorpe] and to winning a medal for the United States."

After having never won a luge medal until 1998 in Nagano, Americans have now won two medals each in the sport at back-to-back Olympics.