Luge at the 2010 Winter Olympics – Doubles
at the XXI Olympic Winter Games
Pictogram for luge
|Venue||Whistler Sliding Centre|
|Competitors||20 teams from 11 nations|
|Luge at the 2010 Winter Olympics
|Singles men women|
The doubles luge event at the 2010 Winter Olympics was held on 17 February at the Whistler Sliding Centre in Whistler, British Columbia. Twenty teams participated. Austrian brothers Andreas and Wolfgang Linger, the defending Olympic and European champions,. won the gold medal. The silver medal was also won by a pair of brothers, Andris and Juris Šics of Latvia. Germans Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch clinched the bronze medal after edging out Italians Christian Oberstolz and Patrick Gruber, who were in third place after the first run.
Changes had been made to the track after a Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died during a training run before the Games began. The turn where Kumaritashvili died was adjusted and padding was added to medal support pillar nearby. In addition, the start of the doubles race was moved to the junior start, meaning not only that the course was shorter but that the athletes would enter a turn and then a sharp corner almost immediately after the start. This required a change in strategy for many competitors, and a limited number of training runs in which to develop it. However, media reports mentioned the changes positively after a doubles team, Austria's Tobias and Markus Schiegl, crashed in the same turn where Kumaritashvili was killed.
In accordance with the International Olympic Committee and the International Luge Federation (FIL), 20 doubles teams (40 athletes total) were allowed to take part in the event. Athletes were to be ranked by the number of world cup points they earned in the 2008–09 season and through the first half (before 31 December) of the 2009–10 season. To be eligible, athletes must either have earned world cup points in five World Cups, Nations Cup or Junior World Cup, or have a top-16 (doubles) finish at the world cup during the qualification period. The top-20 doubles sleds were to be qualified for the Olympics, up to two sleds per nation, with unused quotas to be redistributed with priority given to unrepresented nations. The host nation (Canada) was to be guaranteed a sled in every event provided that they reached the minimum requirements.
International Luge Federation rules for doubles events require that teams participate in two competition runs. The times are then added together and the sled with the lowest time is the winner.
As defending Olympic and European champions, Andreas and Wolfgang Linger were expected to be competitive in the doubles event. However, there were a number of other teams which were expected to be contenders for the gold medal. Italy's team of Gerhard Plankensteiner and Oswald Haselrieder entered the Vancouver Games as the defending Olympic bronze medalists and the defending world champions. The test event that took place at the venue was won by the German team of André Florschütz and Torsten Wustlich, the defending Olympic silver medalists. The last World Cup event prior to the 2010 games took place in Cesana, Italy on 30 January 2010 and was won by the German duo of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, who might also have but contenders but who did not qualify for the 2010 Games, losing out to teammates Florschütz and Wustlich and 2002 doubles champions Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch.
The start and track records were set at the test event from the women's singles/ men's doubles start house for the 2010 Games on 20 February 2009.
|Start||20 February 2009|| Germany
|Track||20 February 2009|| Germany
Death of Nodar Kumaritashvili
During training on February 12, 2010, Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili was going at over 143 kilometres per hour (89 mph) when he crashed in the last turn and hit a steel pole. He was administered CPR at the track, then taken away to hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Training was immediately stopped. As a result, the start of the men's single competition was moved to the women's/doubles' start to reduce speed and the wall at corner where Kumaritashvili crashed was raised.
Investigations were conducted the same day, concluding that the accident was not caused by deficiencies in the track. As a preventative measure, the walls at the exit of curve 16 will be raised and a change in the ice profile will be made. A joint statement was issued by the FIL, the International Olympic Committee, and the Vancouver Organizing Committee over Kurmaitasvili's death with training suspended for the rest of that day. According to the Coroners Service of British Columbia and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the cause was to Kumaritashvili coming out of turn 15 late and not compensating for turn 16. Because of this fatality, an extra 40 yd (37 m) of wall was added after the end of Turn 16 and the ice profile was changed. It also moved the men's singles luge event from its starthouse to the one for both the women's singles and men's doubles event. Kumaritashvili is the first Olympic athlete to die at the Winter Olympics in training since 1992 and the first luger to die in a practice event at the Winter Olympics since Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski of Great Britain was killed at the luge track used for the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck. It was also luge's first fatality (on an artificial track) since 10 December 1975, when an Italian luger was killed. Kumaritavili's teammate Levan Gureshidze withdrew prior to the first run of the event.
The women's singles and men's doubles starts were moved to the Junior start house of the track, located after turn 6. Germany's Natalie Geisenberger complained that it was not a women's start but more of a kinder ("child" in German) start. Her teammate Tatjana Hüfner who had the fastest speed on two runs of 82.3 mph (132.4 km/h) stated that the new start position "..does not help good starters like myself". American Erin Hamlin stated the track was still demanding even after the distance was lessened from 1,193 to 953 m (3,914 to 3,127 ft) and that you were still hitting 80 mph (130 km/h). Despite criticisms, media reports about the doubles competition portrayed the track changes positively after Austria's Tobias and Markus Schiegl crashed at the same turn where Kumaritashvili died.
On 23 March 2010, FIL President Fendt, VANOC President John Furlong, 2010 men's singles gold medalist Felix Loch of Germany visited Kumaritashvili's grave in his hometown of Bakuriani to pay respects as part of tradition in the Georgian Orthodox Church.
The FIL published their reports in regards to Kumaritashvili's death on 12 April 2010 following the FIL Commissions Meeting in St. Leonhard, Austria (near Salzburg) for both sport and technical commissions on 9–11 April 2010. This report was prepared by Romstad and Claire DelNegro, Vice-President Sport Artificial Track, who is from the United States.
The following athletes had qualified for the doubles event as of 4 February 2010.
Linger and Linger had the fastest time in both runs and won their second straight Olympic gold medal in this event, joining the East German duo of Hans Rinn and Norbert Hahn who won the event in 1976 and 1980 as the only repeat gold medalists in the event in Olympic history. This was also Austria's first gold medal at these Olympics for the co-opening ceremony flagbearers. The Šics brothers earned Latvia's first medals at these Olympics. 2002 gold medalists Leitner and Resch earned bronze medals in their last competition. Defending World Cup champions Florschütz and Wustlich finished fifth while defending world champions Plankensteiner and Haselrieder finished a disappointing ninth.
During the first run, Schiegl and Schiegl survived a crash on Turn 16 where they came in too high. Tobias tried to correct the oversteer only to have the cousins collide on the opposite side of the ice wall, causing both cousins to go airborne momentarily. Neither cousin suffered any injury.
|Rank||Bib||Athlete||Country||Run 1||Run 2||Total||Behind|
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