Austria wins doubles luge title, Britcher medals for US

IGLS, Austria (AP) — Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koller of Austria clinched the World Cup luge doubles overall championship Sunday, while Natalie Geisenberger of Germany moved even closer to what could be her eighth women’s season-long title.

It also was a big day for USA Luge: Summer Britcher gave the Americans their first World Cup medal of the season, grabbing a bronze in the women’s race.

Steu and Koller finished second in a sprint race, giving them enough points to earn the crown and become the first non-German sled to win the doubles season title since fellow Austrians Andreas Linger and Wolfgang Linger won the trophy nine seasons ago.

Latvia’s Andris Sics and Juris Sics won the doubles sprint by the smallest margin in luge – a mere 0.001 seconds. Steu and Koller were second, and Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken were third. Steu and Koller now lead Eggert and Benecken by 126 points in the standings with just one World Cup race left; World Cup races are worth 100 points to the winner, so Steu and Koller cannot be caught.

Eggert and Benecken were the four-time defending doubles season champions.

Geisenberger leads fellow German Julia Taubitz by 74 points in the women’s standings with one race remaining, after they each won a gold and a silver on Sunday. Geisenberger won the women’s race with Taubitz second – then they flipped the order, Taubitz winning with Geisenberger second in the women’s sprint later in the day.

Britcher was third in the women’s race and nearly medaled again in the sprint, finishing fourth, 0.016 seconds behind Germany’s Dajana Eitberger.

Geisenberger needs only a 14th-place finish in the World Cup finale at St. Moritz, Switzerland, in two weeks to clinch her eighth title. She had won seven consecutive championships before taking last season off for the birth of her first child; Taubitz won the World Cup crown a year ago.

Ashley Farquharson had a solid day for USA Luge with a pair of top-10 finishes, seventh in the sprint and eighth in the women’s race. Emily Sweeney – in just her second World Cup stop of the season – was eighth in the sprint and 12th in the women’s race, and Brittney Arndt was 13th in the sprint and 15th in the women’s race.

In the men’s sprint, Semen Pavlichenko of Russia got the win over Italy’s Kevin Fischnaller. Germany’s Felix Loch, who clinched his seventh overall men’s World Cup title on Saturday, was third.

There are two weekends left in luge season. The world championships are this coming weekend in Konigssee, Germany, and the World Cup finale is Feb. 4-6 in St. Moritz.

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