LUGE: Surprises at Innsbruck season opener

Olympic and World Luge Champion Natalie Geisenberger of Germany (Photo: Sandro Halank via Wikimedia Commons)

Every season is a new one and the FIL World Cup opener in Innsbruck showed that what happened last season might not happen in this one.

Instead of six-time winner Felix Loch (GER) in the men’s race, it was fellow German Johannes Ludwig – fifth in the seasonal standings last season – who won the first race of the season in Innsbruck (AUT).

Instead of three-time Doubles champs Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken (GER) in the winner’s circle, it was Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koller from Austria, winning both the standard race and the Sprint event. That pair was never better than sixth in any race last season and 12th in the overall standings.

But the women’s races were dominated by six-time champ Natalie Geisenberger of Germany, who led a German sweep in the standard race and the Sprint.

The best U.S. finish was fourth in the women’s Sprint by Summer Britcher, who was also sixth in the standard race. She and the rest of the American and Canadian sliders are looking forward to next week, when the North American leg of the FIL World Cup starts in Whistler (CAN). Summaries:

FIL World Cup
Innsbruck (AUT) ~ 24-25 November 2018
(Full results here)

Men: 1. Johannes Ludwig (GER), 1:40.294; 2. Dominik Fischnaller (ITA), 1:40.392; 3. Wolfgang Kindl (AUT), 1:40.438; 4. David Gleirscher (AUT), 1:40.449; 5. Semen Pavilchenko (RUS), 1:40.540. Also: 15. Jonathan Gustafson (USA), 1:40.800; … 17. Chris Mazdzer (USA), 1:40.829; … 19. Tucker West (USA), 1:40.909.

Men’s Sprint: 1. Kindl (AUT), 32.560; 2. Aleksandr Gorbatcevich (RUS), 32.590; 3. Felix Loch (GER), 32.661; 4. Ludwig (GER), 32.675; 5. Gleirscher (AUT), 32.679. Also: 7. Gustafson (USA), 32.713

Men’s Doubles: 1. Thomas Steu/Lorenz Koller (AUT), 1:19.476; 2. Toni Eggert/Sascha Benecken (GER), 1:19.656; 3. Vladislav Yuzhakov/Iurii Prokhorov (RUS), 1:19.758; 4. Kristens Putins/Imants Marcinkevics (LAT), 1:19.885; 5. Ludwig Rieder/Patrick Rastner (ITA), 1:19.987. Also: 10. Chris Mazdzer/Jayson Terdiman (USA), 1:20.148.

Men’s Doubles/Sprint: 1. Steu/Koller (AUT), 29.916; 2. Yuzhakov/Prokhorov (RUS), 29.975; 3. Tobias Wendl/Tobias Arlt (GER), 30.002; 4. Andris Sics/Juris Sics (LAT), 30.033; 5. Eggert/Benecken (GER), 30.038. Also: 9. Mazdzer/Terdiman (USA), 30.167.

Women: 1. Natalie Geisenberger (GER), 1:19.619; 2. Julia Taubitz (GER), 1:19.655; 3. Tatjana Huebner (GER), 1:19.885; 4. Tatyana Ivanova (RUS), 1:19.946; 5. Andrea Voetter (ITA), 1:19.994. Also: 6. Summer Britcher (USA), 1:20.14; … 16. Raychel Germaine (USA), 1:20.195; 17. Brittney Arndt (USA), 1:20.219.

Women’s Sprint: 1. Geisenberger (GER), 29.887; 2. Taubitz (GER), 29.909; 3. Dajana Eitberger (GER), 29.944; 4. Britcher (USA), 30.104; 5. Birgit Platzer (AUT), 30.140.