Germany repeats as luge relay champions, Team USA finishes 4th

Gold: Natalie Geisenberger, Johannes Ludwig, and Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt (Germany)
Silver: Alex Gough, Sam Edney, and Tristan Walker and Justin Snith (Canada)
Bronze: Madelein Egle, David Gleirscher, and Peter Penz and Georg Fischler (Austria)

The German team won gold in the luge again. Ho hum. Natalie Geisenberger, Johannes Ludwig, and Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt defended the country’s gold from 2014 with another dominant victory in the luge team relay. If it wasn’t for Felix Loch’s disastrous final run in men’s singles luge, Germany would have swept gold medals across the luge. Instead, the relay win gave the Germans their sixth medal — and third gold — of the games, winning over a third of the luge hardware given out in PyeongChang.

Germany’s time of 2:24.517 gave them the win by 0.355 seconds. The Canadian team of Alex Gough, Sam Edney, and Tristan Walker and Justin Snith won silver and the team of Madelein Egle, David Gleirscher, and Peter Penz and Georg Fischler from Austria finished in the bronze medal position. 

The U.S. team of Summer Britcher, Chris Mazdzer, and Matthew Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman just missed out on a medal, finishing fourth, only 0.103 out of third. 

“We just were so close,” Mazdzer told NBC’s Bree Schaaf after the run. “It’s a tough pill to swallow. But we’re going to fight. We’re going come back next time even better.” 

After winning silver in men’s singles luge — the first men’s singles medal in U.S. history — Mazdzer nearly led Team USA to another historic medal. Britcher, who set the track record in the women’s singles competition, struggled on the treacherous ninth turn. Mazdzer made up for Britcher’s struggles with a nearly flawless run to put the team into medal contention. Mortensen and Terdiman delivered in the final leg of the relay, passing the Italian team by 0.002 seconds with only three teams remaining. In the end, however, it wasn’t enough as the Germans, Canadians, and Austrians all put together faster runs. 

Each relay team is made up of one women’s sled, a men’s sled, and a doubles sled. The race is run as one continuous race, same as a relay in swimming or track. The women’s sled runs first — as soon as she crosses the finish line she must hit an overhead touchpad. That touchpad opens the gates for the men’s sled. He goes down, and once he hits the touchpad, the doubles team can proceed. Once they finish, the team’s race is over.

The luge relay first appeared in the Winter Games in Sochi. Germany won in decisive fashion, with a 1.030-second cushion over the Russians in second. The Latvian team won the bronze while the U.S. team finished sixth.

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