IGLS, Austria - Germany opened the 2012-2013 World Cup luge season with total disregard for its competition, and completed their gold medal run of all four races Sunday in this Tyrolean village just outside Innsbruck, Austria.
The Germans won the men’s singles race by sweeping the first five places, led by defending Olympic and World Champion, and World Cup overall winner Felix Loch. They topped off the weekend by setting a team relay track record in Igls. The relay will be officially included in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
The United States took seventh place in the relay. Earlier, Americans Chris Mazdzer finished 16th - among his career best World Cup results - and Taylor Morris 25th in men’s singles.
Each recorded one run that hurt their chances to place higher in the rankings as Mazdzer stood 20th before making a noticeable improvement in the final heat. Morris, conversely, looking to gain experience at the World Cup level, was a commendable 14th at the break, but struggled on the final run and slid down the final rankings.
The top four had the best starts in the men’s singles field, and used that advantage on the docile Igls track. The competition can take some solace in the knowledge that only three of them can qualify for the Olympic Games in 15 months.
In the race within the race, Loch, 23, recorded the two best times of the day, including a track record in the first heat. Loch’s 50.098 and 51.131 seconds combined for an aggregate time of one minute, 40.229 seconds. He was nearly 0.2 of a second clear of teammate David Moeller’s 1:40.536. Johannes Ludwig collected the bronze medal in 1:40.600. He was followed by Andi Langenhan, in fourth place, with Ralf Palik fifth.
Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, N.Y., totaled 1:41.120. His best international performance to date occurred at the Vancouver Winter Olympics where he placed 13th. Mazdzer was 14th in the 2009 World Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., and matched that along with a 16th place in three World Cup meets just prior to Vancouver.
Morris raised some eyebrows when he raced into 14th position in the opening heat. The 22 year old from South Jordan, Utah has had minimal World Cup starts. It is hoped this effort is providing a peek into his potential. His final time was 1:41.326.
In the team relay event, German coaches must have felt that Loch had done enough for the day. After being awarded his gold medal, the son of Germany’s head coach turned over the relay chores to Moeller. The 2010 Olympic silver medalist and four-time World Champion teamed with women’s and doubles winners Anke Wischnewski, Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, respectively.
The quartet collaborated on an Igls relay record time of 2:08.950. Canada, led by Alex Gough who took the bronze Saturday in women’s singles, wound up second in 2:09.237. Italy, with Dominik Fischnaller replacing double Olympic champion and six-time World Champion Armin Zoeggeler, was third in 2:09.737. Zoeggeler was ninth earlier in the day, with Fischnaller 12th.
The American unit of 2010 Olympic singles sliders Julia Clukey, of Augusta, Maine and Chris Mazdzer, of Saranac Lake, N.Y., with the doubles sled of Matt Mortensen, of Huntington Station, N.Y. and 2006 Olympian Preston Griffall settled for seventh in 2:10.343 as the Igls World Cup program concluded.
The circuit continues to the second of nine stops. It’s just a two and half hour drive to Koenigssee in German Bavaria for next weekend’s three competitions in the home of the International Luge Federation. The team relay will not be contested.
Complete Men’s results: Then use drop-down menu on the right
Complete Team Relay results