Luge Canada

Deutsch treat!

Tom Brennan, Calgary SunCall it a double Deutsch.

Almost, in fact, a double-triple Deutsch.

If not for Americans Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin, yesterday's Viessmann Luge World Cup at COP would've seen an absolute sweep by Germany.

Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch edged countrymen Steffen Skel and Steffen Woller to lead a 1-2-4 finish by Germans -- Grimmette/Martin snuck in third -- in doubles.

Then the women went out and one-upped them, Sonja Wiedemann edging teammates Barbara Niedenhuber and Silke Kraushaar -- second and first respectively at the '98 Olympics -- as Germans crossed the line 1-2-3-5.

Germans have won all doubles and women's races this season -- a total of 10. The women are so dominant they've claimed all three medals in four of the five events, including the last three.

What Austria's men are to alpine skiing, they are to luge.

"It (a German sweep) doesn't come as a shock anymore," shrugged Red Deer's Regan Lauscher, top Canadian at 17th. "All you can do is admire them and try to be more like them."

How deep are the Germans? Well, Wiedemann won gold at last year's world championships yet only finished 25th in the World Cup overall standings, because she wasn't fast enough to qualify for the German team at some of the events. That's how deep.

But then, there wasn't a Calgary stop on the circuit in 1998-99, either. And COP's been very good to Wiedemann. Four years ago she set the track mark for juniors, which still stands. Now a World Cup gold her first trip back.

She oughta come visit more often, no?

"Ja," smiled the 22-year-old from Miesbach, 60 km from Munich. "This is a wonderful track."

Wunderbar, if windy.

"This is the only track the wind influences you as you're going down," Wiedemann said. "My run basically had some small mistakes, because of the wind."

But little errors were OK. Fellow German Sylke Otto made a couple of big ones, and they cost her a fourth victory in five tries this season.

Otto broke the track record in Friday's Challenge Cup, then broke it again on the first run yesterday. But her lead of more than 3/10ths of a second evaporated as she banged walls all the way down and
dropped to fifth.

"No, I didn't think anyone could catch her," admitted Wiedemann. "Because the margin was so big."

Wiedemann's best result had been a third in the season opener. "I was a little bit sick at the beginning, so I was a little behind in training," she explained. "I'm now starting to get up there. I'll give my best in driving, and try to defend my world championship."

Leitner and Resch, winners of the '99 world title, have won three of the five doubles races. But they still trail Skel and Woller, who took the other two, in the overall World Cup standings because of a
crash at the race in Latvia.

"It will be hard for us to catch them," admitted Leitner, in his second year of sliding with Resch after the latter rebounded from a broken leg suffered in a motorcycle accident.

Canada's doubles teams -- Chris Moffat/Eric Pothier and Mike Lane/Colin Clachrie, all from Calgary -- were 14th and 15th in the field of 16. Bree Babione and Jessie Lalonde, also of Calgary -- were
22nd and 27th in women's.

The men's singles race goes today, first run at 9:30 a.m.

Original>">Original article in >"> Canoe Slam Winter Sports

Reprinted with permission from The Calgary Sun
Copyright (c) 1999 The Calgary Sun and Tom Brennan