Geisenberger wins, Hamlin clinches Olympic spot
WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger kept her unbeaten World Cup luge season going Saturday night, and Erin Hamlin of the U.S. wrapped up a trip to the Sochi Olympics with a fifth-place finish.
The Germans also won the team relay, with Geisenberger helping her nation to that gold as well.
Geisenberger finished two runs on the 2010 Vancouver Olympic track in 1 minute, 13.412 seconds to beat Canada’s Alex Gough by 0.133 seconds and improve to a perfect 4 for 4 on the circuit this season.
Another German, Anke Wischnewski, was third in 1:13.622.
By finishing fifth, Hamlin ensured that she will be on the Olympic roster that USA Luge will announce on Dec. 14. Kate Hansen of the U.S. was sixth to greatly improve her Olympic hopes. Also for the Americans, Julia Clukey finished 10th and Summer Britcher was 15th.
“It’s really nice to get that out of the way,” said Hamlin, who pumped her fist when she saw the top-five finish was assured. “It’s like a weight off the shoulders a little bit. So, big relief. It’s way easier to do it that way than go to the wire and potentially race-off.”
Hamlin already had met some of USA Luge’s Olympic selection criteria, but the top-five finish — her best of the season — guarantees her spot. Also, now with two finishes of ninth or better this season, Hansen has met one of the selection criteria for Sochi selection but is not yet completely assured of a place on the roster.
“It’s nice to have solid runs,” Hamlin said. “I know I can be faster.”
The U.S. will reveal the full list of Olympic selections at the conclusion of next week’s World Cup stop in Park City, Utah. Chris Mazdzer, who is currently fifth in the men’s World Cup points chase, has also secured a spot.
In the team relay on Saturday, Geisenberger, Felix Loch and the doubles duo of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished in 2:03.791, beating the host Canadians by 0.411 seconds. Austria was third and the U.S. finished fourth, missing a medal by less than one-tenth of a second.