There was little doubt that Germany would dominate the Luge World Championships, as it had for the prior 18 editions going back to 1995. And for the 19th time in a row, Germany took top honors, winning five of the seven events and winning 12 of the 21 available medals.
But that doesn’t mean it was boring. In the women’s division, Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger was the fastest in both heats and won her fourth world title, and four in the last five years. Her time of 1:53.868 edged teammate Julia Taubitz (GER: 1:54.293), with a surprise in third place, Emily Sweeney of the U.S. (1:54.381).
This was the first-ever Worlds medal for Sweeney, who sat fourth after the first run, but had the second-fastest run in the field for the second race and moved up to the podium.
“I don’t know if it’s totally hit me yet,” said Sweeney just after the competition. “But I said going into this season, and going into this (Olympic) quad really, that knowing I did have an injury last year, I wasn’t looking for overall medals. I wanted the big medals. I want Worlds medals and I want an Olympic medal, so to actually have one is crazy. I’m quite happy with that.”
Sweeney crashed in PyeongChang last year at the Winter Games, but made the most of it through motivation. “What happened in Pyeongchang made me mentally stronger, in general. All the clichés are true: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’ve had a really challenging year and I think I’m better for it. Ten, 11 months ago I was pretty miserable, not gonna lie. The difference from then to now, does seem unreal. And all I can say is time makes things better. Time and a lot of work.”
Summer Britcher of the U.S. finished fifth, just 0.056 from a medal. She was third going into the second run, but had only the sixth-fastest time on the final race.
Germany’s Geisenberger, Taubitz and Dajana Eitberger swept the women’s Sprint race, with Sweeney fourth.
The men’s title returned to Germany’s Felix Loch, who won his sixth World Championship, but first since 2017. He led from the start and maintained his lead with the second-fastest second run in the field. Austria’s Reinhard Egger, who has had an excellent World Cup season, came all the way from fifth after the first run to claim the silver medal; he was the fastest in the field on the final run.
The men’s Doubles title went, for the second year in a row, to Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken (GER), with Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt (GER) – themselves three-time champions – finishing second for the second straight year. Austria’s Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koller were third and the same three won the Sprint medals, in the same order.
All told, Germany won 12 medals to five for Austria, three for Russia and one for the U.S., as luge remains essentially a German province. Summaries:
FIL World Championships
Winterberg (GER) ~ 25-27 January 2019
(Full results here)
Men’s Singles: 1. Felix Loch (GER), 1:44.250; 2. Reinhard Egger (AUT), 1:44.350; 3. Semen Pavlichenko (RUS), 1:44.363; 4. Johannes Ludwig (GER), 1:44.413; 5. Chris Rene Eissler (GER), 1:44.568; 6. Roman Repilov (RUS), 1:44.577; 7. Dominik Fischnaller (ITA), 1:44.669; 8. Wolfgang Kindl (AUT), 1:44.731. Also: 9. Tucker West (USA), 1:44.839; … 14. Jonathan Gustafson (USA), 1:45.105
Men’s Sprint: 1. Jonas Mueller (AUT), 35.835; 2. Felix Loch (GER), 35.859; 3. Semen Pavlichenko (RUS), 35.889; 4. Johannes Ludwig (GER), 35.914; 5. Kristers Aparjods (LAT), 35.954; 6. Reinhard Egger (AUT), 35.963; 7. Chris Rene Eissler (GER), 35.968; 8. Wolfgang Kindl (AUT), 35.988.
Men’s Doubles: 1. Toni Eggert/Sascha Benecken (GER), 1:27.256; 2. Tobias Wendl/Tobias Arlt (GER), 1:27.334; 3. Thomas Steu/Lorenz Koller (AUT), 1:27.397; 4. Oskars Gudramovics/Peteris Kalnins (LAT), 1:27.418; 5. Andris Sics/Juris Sics (LAT), 1:27.452; 6. Ludwig Rieder/Patrick Rastner (ITA), 1:27.552; 7. Vladislav Yuzhakov/Iurii Prokhorov (RUS), 1:27.617; 8. Wojciech Jerzy Chmielewski/Jakub Kowalewski (POL), 1:27.667. Also: 11. Chris Mazdzer/Jayson Terdiman (USA), 1:27.720
Men’s Doubles Sprint: 1. Eggert/Benecken (GER), 30.812; 2. Wendl/Arlt (GER), 30.824; 3. Steu/Koller (AUT), 30.829; 4. Sics/Sics (LAT), 30.868; 5. Mazdzer/Terdiman (USA), 30.895; 6. Vsevolod Kashkin/Konstantin Korshunov (RUS), 30.960; 7. R.J. Geueke/David Gamm (GER), 30.979; 8. Ludwig Rieder/Patrick Rastner (ITA), 30.983.
Women’s Singles: 1. Natalie Geisenberger (GER), 1:53.868; 2. Julia Taubitz (GER), 1:54.293; 3. Emily Sweeney (USA), 1:54.381; 4. Tatyana Ivanova (RUS), 1:54.424; 5. Summer Britcher (USA), 1:54.437; 6. Ulla Zirne (LAT), 1:54.633; 7. Andrea Voetter (ITA), 1:54.652; 8. Ekaterina Baturina (RUS), 1:54.662.
Women’s Singles Sprint: 1. Geisenberger (GER), 38.628; 2. Taubitz (GER), 38.635; 3. Dajana Eitberger (GER), 38.688; 4. Sweeney (USA), 38.747; 5. Tatjana Huefner (GER), 38.794; 6. Baturina (RUS), 38.801; 7. Ivanova (RUS), 38.819; 8. Britcher (USA), 38.896.
Team Relay: 1. Russia (Ivanova, Pavlichenko, Yuzhakov/Prokhorov), 2:24.116; 2. Austria (Prock, Egger, Steu/Koller), 2:24.624; 3. Germany (Geisenberger, Loch, Eggert/Benecken), 2:24.647; 4. Italy, 2:24.809; 5. Canada, 2:24.875; 6. United States (Emily Sweeney, Jonathan Gustafson, Chris Mazdzer/Jayson Terdiman), 2:25.147.