Sochi, Russian Federation (4E Sports) – Defending Olympic champion Felix Loch of Germany established a pivotal lead over his rivals after the first two of four runs in men’s luge in the opening day of competition at the Sanki Sliding Center.
Albert Demtschenko of Russia broke the track record on his first run Saturday and had a 15 one-thousandths of a lead over Loch.
But he made an error in the second run, giving Loch a three-tenths of a second advantage over him.
Loch has an overall lead of .294 of a second over closest rival Demtschenko before the final run tomorrow morning at Sanki.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Armin Zoeggeler of Italy is currently in third, trailing Loch by 0.74 of a second.
It would take an uncharacteristic meltdown during those last two runs for him to relinquish the advantage, his competitors said.
“He’s consistent and he can be conservative now. He’ll make it down,” U.S. luger Chris Mazdzer said, with a wry smile. “He’s going to do well. Very well.”
42-year-old Demtschenko, who is competing at his seventh Winter Olympics, won the silver medal at the 2006 Games in Turin.
Hopes were high for Demtschenko to take the gold after he set the best luge time of 52.553sec on the third day of practice at the Sochi Olympics sliding centre on Friday. He was 0.132sec faster than Loch.