Two Share Gold in Two-Man Bobsled
NAGANO, Japan (AP) _ In one of the most dramatic races in Olympic history, Pierre Lueders of Canada and Guenther Huber of Italy tied after four runs and shared the gold medal in two-man bobsled Sunday.
It was the first time an Olympic bobsled race produced co-winners, and one of only a handful of times in Winter Olympic history that a race ended with twin golds.
The winning sleds finished with identical times of 3 minutes, 37.24 seconds.
Christoph Langen, who was left off German team four years ago after failing to qualify for the Lillehammer games, won the bronze in 3:38.89.
Huber built a five-hundredths-of-a second lead over the Canadian star on the first run of the competition, but Lueders slowly pecked away at it, barely beating Huber down the 15-turn Spiral track on the next three runs.
The volatile Lueders, who despite a bitter wind went without gloves and socks as the sun set slowly over the Japanese Alps, made up one hundredth of a second on the second run Saturday and did it again on the third run.
With the gold medal on the line, Lueders then made up three hundredths on the final run.
Huber had heats of 54.51, 54.29, 54.17 and 54.27, and Lueders had runs of 54.56, 54.28, 54.16 and 54.24.
The last time a two-man competition ended in a dead heat, an Italian also was involved. The great Eugenio Monti and Horst Floth of Germany finished in 4:41.54 in 1968 at Grenoble, but Monti won gold because he had the fastest single heat time.
In 1972, the title in doubles luge was shared by East Germany’s Horst Hoernlein and Reinhard Bredow, and Paul Hildgartner and Walter Plaikner of Italy in the time of 1:28.35. Several speedskating races also have ended with twin winners.
Lost among the craziness at the end was the performance of the United States, which cracked the top 10 this time with both of its Bo-Dyn sleds.
After faltering to 11th and 12th on the first day of competition, Jim Herberich, of Winchester, Mass., and Brian Shimer, of Naples, Fla., came back with impressive runs Sunday, but still were more than a second behind Huber.
Herberich, who began the day in 11th, moved up to seventh, finishing in 3:38.53. Shimer finished 10th in 3:38.75.
Greatness was stamped on Lueders the first time he crammed behind the controls of his sled for his first big race. In 1992, he became the only driver in history to win the first World Cup race he entered. And to do so he had to beat the great Swiss driver Gustav Weder, the man who won the previous two Olympic golds in two-man.
Lueders, who has the best start in the business, had the best final run to pull off the miracle finish.
It was Canada’s first Olympic medal in the two-man and only its second bobsled medal ever. Victor Emery and three fellow bachelors from Montreal won gold in the four-man at Innsbruck in 1964, an upset if ever there was one. Canada had never before entered an Olympic bobsled race and even beat the great Monti, who finished third.
The finale here figured to be a two-sled race after the first day, and it was. And this time Huber was able to walk away with a medal. In Albertville six years ago, he entered the fourth and final run in second and finished 11th.
Christian Reich finished fourth in Switzerland 2 and Sandis Prusis of Latvia was a surprising fifth.