PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Just about everyone in the international luge world refers to the German team of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt as “the Tobys,” for obvious reasons.
Call them two-time Olympic champions now, too.
As most expected, a German team won the doubles luge title at the Pyeongchang Games. As few expected, it was Wendl and Arlt — the second-best team in the world all season, yet the team that stood highest on the Olympic medal podium. They held off Austria’s Peter Penz and Georg Fischler by 0.088 seconds for a second straight gold medal.
“I can’t describe the words that I’m feeling, what the feeling is inside,” Arlt said. “We’re again Olympic champions and so happy, it’s just amazing.”
Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken, the heavy Olympic favorites after dominating the World Cup circuit this season, only managed a bronze.
“The Tobys have a history of holding onto their speed, keeping it kind of in waiting until it’s time to perform,” USA Luge’s Matt Mortensen said. “I don’t think that Toni and Sascha had a bad competition. I just think the Tobys probably came with a better setup for today.”
Wendl and Arlt are the first German team to win two straight doubles golds since Hans Rinn and Norbert Hahn in 1976 and 1980. They had the fastest time in each of the two runs, plus set both the start record and the track record.
Penz and Fischler were second-fastest in each heat, Eggert and Benecken third-fastest in each. Wednesday’s race was only the eighth time out of their last 30 international starts that Eggert and Benecken didn’t leave a race as the winners.
It was a disappointing night for the Americans, who haven’t medaled in doubles since taking silver and bronze in both 1998 and 2002.
But a young team offered plenty of hope for the future.
Justin Krewson and Andrew Sherk — who got into the Olympics by 0.062 seconds, the difference between their sled and the one of U.S. teammates Jake Hyrns and Anthony Espinoza at the deciding World Cup race in Lake Placid, New York in December — were eighth in their Olympic debut.
“Best day at work ever,” Krewson said.
Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman were 10th, but will join men’s silver medalist Chris Mazdzer and Summer Britcher (who struggled at times and was 19th in the women’s race, even after setting a track record in one run) as the U.S. team in the relay event — the last luge competition in the Pyeongchang Games — on Thursday night.
It may be the final race for Mortensen and Terdiman. It’ll definitely be their last Olympic race, since Mortensen has already decided he won’t stick around for a shot at the 2022 Beijing Games. And even after a difficult night Wednesday, the Americans said they will hit the relay with tons of confidence.
“Summer wants redemption, we want redemption, Chris wants to keep his train rolling,” Terdiman said. “Let’s keep it going, baby. We got this.”
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