Germans finish 1-2-3 in women's luge; U.S. takes fifthPosted: Wednesday February 13, 2002 10:00 PM
Updated: Sunday February 17, 2002 7:31 PM
PARK CITY, Utah (Ticker) -- Sylke Otto set another course record at Utah Olympic Park, finally won an elusive gold medal and led a German sweep in an event the country virtually has owned since it was introduced 38 years ago.
Otto finished 13th in 1992 at Albertville, then failed to qualify for the elite German team in 1994 and 1998. But she ended a decade of frustration by pumping her fist as she crossed the finish line following her final run.
"I can't describe how I feel," Otto, a 32-year-old soldier said. "Week after week, I prepared, and it finally comes to this. It doesn't matter what medal it is this time. I'm just glad to have it and I'm very proud."
Otto received treatment for a sore neck Monday, then strung together a combined time of 2 minutes, 52.464 seconds. The two-time defending world champion set a course record in Tuesday's second run, then broke it Wednesday with a time of 42.940 seconds.
Barbara Niedernhuber took the silver, finishing .321 seconds behind her countrywoman. Silke Kraushaar, who tapped the wall in her second run Tuesday, held on to the bronze, giving Germany 24 of the 33 medals awarded since women's luge was introduced in 1964.
"We're all very happy," said Kraushaar, the 1998 gold medalist. "It's wonderful that we're all together on the podium."
The success in the luge propelled Germany to the top of the medals standings after five days of competition with 12, two more than the United States.
Becky Wilczak matched the best women's luge finish in American history by placing fifth in 2:54.254. She was met at the end of her final run by her father, Tom, who is awaiting a liver transplant.
"It was a great surprise to see him there and to be able to give
him a hug," Wilczak said.
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