Canada wins team relay bronze at luge World Cup
Germany's Felix Loch clinches luge World Cup title
Felix Loch of Germany clinched the overall title Sunday at the final luge World Cup meet of the season won by Germany's Andi Langenhan.
The two-day meet, an Olympic test event at Sochi's Sanki track that ends Sunday with the team relay, has tested both athletes and spectators with above-freezing temperatures and steady rain.
Langenhan, the world silver medallist , finished his two runs with a combined time of one minute 47.335 seconds, just 0.004 seconds ahead of Russia's Albert Demchenko. David Moeller of Germany finished third.
Loch, the current world and Olympic champion, finished sixth in the meet but that was enough to claim the overall World Cup title. Langenhan and Moeller were second and third, respectively.
Canadians earn bronze
In the team relay, which will be an Olympic event for the first time at Sochi next year, Langenhan joined Tatjana Huefner, Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, who had won gold in the women's and men's doubles competition Saturday, to win in 2:51.553, ahead of the Russian team by 0.156 seconds.
The Canadian team of Sam Edney and Alex Gough, both of Calgary, along with doubles tandem Tristan Walker, of Cochrane, Alta., and Calgary's Justin Snith, was third in 2:51.954.
"We knew the Russians would be quick, and for all three sleds in the team relay we wanted to have runs that we know are up to our standards and potential," said Edney. "We did that, and also we learned a lot about potential track conditions, equipment decisions and also where we individually have to improve our sliding.
"Overall we felt great walking away with a medal."
Germany won the team relay overall World Cup as well, with Italy in second place and the United States third.
With memories still strong of the death of Georgian's Nodar Kumaritashvili in a training run for the Vancouver Olympics, the Russian luge track has been under strong scrutiny for safety. Sliders in the two-day test event consistently spoke well of the track.
"Everyone's really enjoying it," Edney said after his second run Sunday.
Josef Fendt, head of the international luge federation, said Sunday that the test event left observers happy with the track's safety and ice condition.
"We are very happy that here we see an interesting, fast and at the same time very safe track," he said.
The track contains three counterslopes, uphill runs aimed at keeping speeds within control.
"Nothing can be found like that on other tracks," Fendt said, though he acknowledged that the rising runs make "this quite a difficult goal for the athletes."
Many of the sliders praised the order in which the curves are arranged. "The rhythm of the track is good. It's very easy to get a flow," said American Joe Mortensen.