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Germany Tops Medal Table

February 13, 1998

NAGANO, Japan (AP) _ The Olympics are hitting the halfway stage and the Germans are already partying.

Little has gone wrong so far and the powerhouse could be on its way to exceed its record haul of 26 medals at the 1992 Albertville Games.

``We can be No. 1 again,″ said Walter Troeger, the president of Germany’s Olympic Committee. Germany already had 13 medals on Friday the 13th, including five gold. The Winter Games will distribute 68 gold medals by the time they end on Feb 22.

``I set out a target of 20 and we’ll get there, no sweat,″ Troeger said.

Georg Hackl set the tone when he wore special golden boots on his way to individual luge gold.

Norway, the top medal nation when it hosted the Lillehammer Games four years ago, was in second place with 11 medals, topped with three gold. Austria had nine, but had to wait Mario Reiter won the Alpine combined Friday for its first gold.

Of Russia’s seven medals by Friday, four are gold. And the team boasts the only double gold-medalist at the halfway point, cross-country star Larissa Lazutina. She also earned a silver.

With two gold medals, Japan already has done better than in any other winter Olympics.

But so far, Germany is the clear star of the games _ and hasn’t even needed to count on the women’s Alpine ski team. So far Alpine skiing has largely been a victim of the weather and in the only women’s race so far, the Germans disappointed badly.

On the other hand, the luge chute has been German with a sweep of gold by Hackl, Silke Kraushaar and the doubles team.

Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann led a sweep in 3,000-meter speedskating.

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