Winter Olympics - Lingers don't linger to slide to gold

Reuters - Thu, 18 Feb 05:07:00 2010

Austrian brothers Andreas and Wolfgang Linger rose to the occasion at the perfect moment as they did four years ago to snatch gold in the Olympic luge doubles.

2006 Torino Luge Andreas/Wolfgang Linger - 0

The Lingers, one of four sets of siblings in the final luge event of the Games, jumped for joy after edging out Latvians Andris and Juris Sics to land their country's first gold medal of the Games.

It was a close-run thing, however, with just a slither of ice separating the podium places.

The Lingers' winning margin was 0.264 seconds and Germany's Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch, who took the bronze medal after a storming second run, were less than a tenth of a second away from the silver.

"It's just great to win four years after Turin," 28-year-old Andreas, one year older than his brother, said. "There was a lot of pressure to come here as reigning champions."

The Sics brothers were happy with silver, despite going so close to winning their country's first Winter Olympics gold.

"It's perfect," Andris Sics, whose brother got them involved in luge after getting caught sliding down the local track on a plastic sledge as a nine-year-old, said.

"Always you want to be first but second place for small Latvia is wonderful. We trained hard and got in the top three."

The Lingers were doubles world champions in 2003 but did nothing special after that until returning to the top of the podium at the 2006 Olympics.

One victory from eight World Cup races this season meant they did not arrive in Whistler as gold-medal favourites but they responded with two perfect runs.

Noisy celebrations at the finish where Austrian fans unfurled a large flag and rang cow bells and Canadians pranced around bare-chested were a stark contrast to the sombre mood in which the luge events began following the death of Georgian slider Nodar Kumaritashvili.

Austrian brothers Tobias and Markus Schiegl survived a terrifying moment on the infamous Corner 16 during the first run.

They appeared to enter the high-speed curve too high and as driver Tobias desperately tried to correct the sled it was dumped down to the bottom of the track and collided with the opposing side of the ice wall, momentarily going airborne.

Luckily they came to rest with neither appearing to have suffered any injury, but the incident inevitably revived memories of the crash that killed Kumaritashvili.

The Georgian lost control at virtually the same spot and was catapulted off the track before striking a steel post. Since that fatality the corner has been fitted with wooden boarding to stop sliders leaving the track.

Factbox on Austria's Andreas and Wolfgang Linger:

ANDREAS

Age: 28

Place of birth: Hall, Austria

Residence: Absam, Austria

WOLFGANG

Age: 27

Place of birth: Hall, Austria

Residence: Absam, Austria

Previous Olympic results:

Gold medallists, 2006 Winter Olympics, doubles

Career achievements:

Gold medallists, 2003 World Championships, doubles

Gold medallists, 2010 European Championships, doubles

2x silver medallists, 2008, 2010 European Championships, doubles

Silver medallists, 2008 European Championships, team relay

2x Third place, 2007/08, 2008/09 World Cup, doubles

Background:

Wolfgang, together with his older brother Andreas, both serve in the army. They started competing in singles in 1992 and took up doubles together in their early teens.

Wolfgang was forced to have pins put in his leg after he broke his ankle and fibula in 2005 after crashing during a test event.

The injury did not deter him and the siblings went on to win Olympic gold in Turin and then retain their title in Vancouver.

Follow the Winter Olympics 24/7 on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) and Eurosport HD (Sky 412). British Eurosport channels are streamed online via the Eurosport Player.

Reuters

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