KOENIGSSEE, Germany - Last Sunday at the World Cup luge opener in Igls, Austria, German men did the unthinkable: led by winner Felix Loch, the squad took the top five places in a feat never before achieved in the history of the World Cup.
Germany fell off that pace Sunday in this Bavarian resort, but not by much. As heavy snow blanketed the Berchtesgaden Alps, the home nation "settled" for a sweep of the podium.
Andi Langenhan, fifth at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, stood atop the medal stand for the sixth time in his career. He was flanked by silver medalist Loch and bronze medalist David Moeller.
The United States placed 2010 Olympian Chris Mazdzer in 15th place, followed by Taylor Morris in a career best 22nd place.
Langenhan’s first heat track record of 49.252 seconds opened a 0.10 of a second advantage over Loch. The second heat was furious as Loch, the 2010 Olympic champion, and three-time (and defending) World Champion, pushed the issue with the best run time. However, he could only close to within .04 of the winner.
Langenhan’s second heat time of 49.427 totaled one minute, 38.679 seconds. Loch, who won six of nine events last season, clocked 1:38.720 on his home course. Moeller, the Vancouver Olympic silver medalist and four-time World Champion, was next in 1:38.942.
The World Cup’s elder statesmen took the next two spots with Russia’s Albert Demschenko, who turned 41 last week, in fourth place. Demschenko’s daughter Victoria is working her way through the team’s junior ranks and could even join her father on the Sochi Olympic team. The 2006 Olympic silver medal winner and member of six Olympic teams was followed by 38 year old Armin Zoeggeler, of Italy. The two-time Olympic champion and six-time World Champion was fifth.
Loch leads the season-long World Cup point race with 185, followed by Langenhan at 160 and Moeller with 155.
Chris Mazdzer during his first race run in Koenigssee, Germany on December 2, 2012. Photo: AP
Mazdzer, after opening the year in 16th last week, inched his way up the ladder on one of the circuit’s most technically demanding and unique tracks. The series of S-turns, a slightly crooked straightaway, and a 360 degree circle make it memorable when the race is over, but challenging, and sometimes even daunting, when you are in the chute.
Mazdzer was 21st at the mid-point of the race but then posted the 13th fastest second leg, enabling him to jump into 15th.
The Saranac Lake, N.Y. resident’s two runs totaled 1:39.975, while the relatively less experienced Morris, of South Jordan, Utah, at 21 years of age, accumulates knowledge on difficult courses and in the spotlight of World Cup racing. His time was 1:40.290.
Mazdzer has 51 World Cup points, putting him in a 17th place tie overall. Morris has 35 points and sits in 25th place on the young season.
The World Cup tour now moves on to Altenberg, Germany, along the border of the Czech Republic, where four races will be held next weekend, including the team relay.
Complete men’s results