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Americans Win World Cup Luge Title

January 25, 1998

WINTERBERG, Germany (AP) _ Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin bolstered their hopes of becoming the first Americans to win an Olympic luge medal by capturing the World Cup doubles title Sunday.

Grimmette and Martin posted the fastest times in both runs in easily winning the final event of the six-race season and succeeding the American duo of Chris Thorpe and Gordy Sheer, last year’s World Cup doubles champions.

Thorpe and Sheer finished sixth in Sunday’s race and wound up fourth in the final season standings.

Grimmette and Martin clocked times of 41.259 seconds and 41.286 for a winning total of 1:22.545 en route to their fourth victory of the season.

``We’ve been working hard and taking all the little steps needed to be successful and we’ll keep working on those things right until the Olympics,″ said Grimmette, of Muskegon, Mich.

``It was great to see our teammates win last year and that pushed us this year. We’ve been training alongside them all summer and that helps.″

Luge is one of three sports the United States never has won a medal in at the Winter Olympics. The others are biathlon and Nordic combined.

``We’ve meshed together as a team,″ Martin, of Palo Alto, Calif., said. ``We got good experience last year and everything has flowed well to this point. We go to Nagano with some momentum and we’ll try to keep that up.″

Grimmette was fourth at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, with a different partner. He and Martin teamed up in the summer of 1996, after both lost their previous partners.

When they started training, Grimmette and Martin had to raise their own money to race on the World Cup circuit.

In their first World Cup race at Lillehammer, they finished third, and from that day they became funded members of the U.S. team.

They won four of the six races this season.

Markus and Tobias Schiegl of Austria finished second at 1:22.756, and Kurt Brugger and Wilfried Huber of Italy were third at 1:22.799.

Brugger and Huber finished second in the season standings, while another Italian pair, Gerhard Plankensteiner and Oswald Haselrieder, who were fourth in the race, took third place for the season.

Grimmette and Martin had a total of 196 points, Brugger and Huber 163, Plankensteiner and Haselrieder 161 and Thorpe and Sheer 158.

Germans took the top four places in the women’s singles finale, but the World Cup title went to Gerda Weissensteiner of Italy, who finished fifth in the race.

Sylke Otto, who has not been chosen to the German Olympic team, won the race in 1:22.652, ahead of European champion Silke Kraushaar, who clocked 1:22.983. Barbara Niedernhuber was third at 1:23.276 and Susi Erdmann fourth.

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