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Germany’s Geisenberger wins World Cup opener

November 16, 2013

LILLEHAMMER, Norway (AP) — If anyone is going to beat the German women in luge, two perfect runs are pretty much required.

U.S. national champion Kate Hansen was one run short.

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger wound up winning the women’s World Cup season opener on Saturday, finishing two runs in 1 minute, 35.847 seconds for her country’s 122nd gold medal in the last 126 races on the circuit. Russia’s Tatyana Ivanova was second in 1:36.031, and Canada’s Alex Gough took third in 1:36.233.

Hansen was the surprise leader after the first run, and was the last woman down the track in the second run, knowing exactly what she needed for what would have been the first World Cup win by an American woman in 16 years. But she posted just the 22nd-fastest time out of 23 sliders in the second heat, finishing 12th overall.

“I guess it’s a little bittersweet, but I still got 12th,” Hansen said. “And I haven’t gotten a top-12 in years.”

Racing with a broken foot, Hansen was the second racer to go down the track out of 24 in the first heat, finishing her opening run in 47.954 seconds. With most of the usual race-day favorites like Geisenberger, Gough and Tatjana Hufner still to slide, it was somewhat expected that Hansen’s time atop the leaders’ box would only last for a few minutes.

But no one caught her in that first heat, and she found herself squarely in the medal mix.

“I will say that being the fastest after the first run with a broken foot was a pretty unbelievable feeling that I may or may not ever get again,” Hansen said.

Earlier Saturday, defending World Cup champions Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt of Germany prevailed in the doubles season-opener, finishing in 1:35.499. Another German team, Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken, took second in 1:35.509. Two-time defending Olympic champions Andreas and Wolfgang Linger were third, the Austrian brothers finishing in 1:35.612.

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