Natalie Geisenberger is in position to defend her gold medal. She is in first place with a cumulative time of 1:32.454 after the first two runs of the women’s singles luge after two near-flawless slides down the course. Her German teammate, Dajana Eitberger, finished the day in second place.
Alex Gough of Canada was third after Runs 1 and 2, 0.191-seonds behind Geisenberger, with German Tatjana Huefner, the 2010 gold medalist, in fourth. Results are here.
Erin Hamlin, the U.S. athlete who won bronze in 2014 and was Team USA’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was the top American after Runs 1 and 2 in 5th place. She was 0.045 seconds out of third place. Fellow U.S. athletes Summer Britcher and Emily Sweeney were in ninth and 15th, respectively. The U.S. already won one medal in the luge thanks to Chris Mazdzer winning the first medal in U.S. history in men’s singles.
“I’m happy,” Hamlin told NBC’s Lewis Johnson after her runs. “Consistency is what I’m looking for -- so far, so good.”
Medals will be handed out after two more runs on February 13. Whichever luger has the fastest cumulative time of all four runs will win gold. You can watch the conclusion of the competition tomorrow at 6 a.m. ET on the NBC Olympics live stream.
Geisenberger established herself on her first run, setting a course record of 46.245 to take a 0.072-second lead over Alex Gough of Canada into the second run. The lead grew in Run 2 to 0.120 thanks to another near-perfect run. Geisenberger will be looking to avoid the fate of fellow German Felix Loch, who blew his chance to win a third straight gold medal on Sunday. Loch looked poised to win, carrying a solid lead into the final run, but had the worst run of his Olympic career to fall from first to fifth. It’s a cautionary tale for Geisenberger, who looks unflappable, if not uncatchable.
The Germans have a shot at sweeping the medals with three in the top four, but with Gough running well and Hamlin on their heels, it’s no guarantee.
Hamlin kicked off the competition with a very solid run. She slid down the course with few mistakes, successfully maneuvering the treacherous ninth curve. She set the tone, placing herself in sixth after one run. Her second run was again solid, but she left some time on the board with small mistakes.
Summer Britcher nearly put herself out of contention after a disastrous first run, but set the course record on her second run with a scintillating slide down the course. That run vaulted her from 15th to ninth.
In her first Olympics, Sweeney of Team USA put together a solid first run, but skidded through multiple turns on her second run to finish the first day of competition in 15th place.
If Team USA is going to win its second luge medal of the games, the best chance lies with Hamlin, who will need two clutch performances on Monday. With her history, it’s not out of the question.