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Germany Owns the Luge
Germen women sweep again in one of the fastest sports on ice
By Catherine Gough
Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Germany's Sylke Otto celebrates her gold medal win
Germany's Sylke Otto celebrates her gold medal win as she finishes her final run in the Women's Singles Luge on February 14, 2006.

  • Learn more about luge.


    (Photo: Herbet Knosowski/AP )
  • Tuesday, February 14—Luge, (which is the French word for sled) is the sport of sliding down an ice-covered track at more than 80 miles per hour—on your back—and with very little steering and no brakes! It takes guts, determination, skill, and lots of luck!

    The U.S. women's luge singles team had just about everything but the luck in today's competition at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. Germany swept the medals, leaving the U.S. team in a spray of ice.

    However, the U.S. women did make a valiant challenge. Courtney Zablocki of Colorado was in third place after the first of four runs and had a shot at the bronze. She came up short for a medal by only 4 tenths of a second!

    "I'm happy where I finished, but at the same time I was really fighting for that spot up there on the medal podium," she said. "I am a little disappointed. Actually, I'm a lot disappointed."

    Erin Hamlin of New York finished 12th.

    German women own the luge. It's the country's sixth medal sweep in 12 Olympics, and it's a second gold for the top luger Sylke Otto. Of the 36 medals awarded to women in the luge in Olympic history, 27 have gone to the Germans. American women have yet to grab a luge medal.

    Winning the silver was Silke Kraushaar, with Tatjana Huefner taking the bronze.

    Skeleton competition for women is set for Thursday, February 16.

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    Germany's Sylke Otto celebrates her gold medal win
    Germany's Sylke Otto celebrates her gold medal win as she finishes her final run in the Women's Singles Luge on February 14, 2006.
    (Photo: Herbet Knosowski/AP )
    Germany Dominating in Luge
    German women lead after first two runs
    By Tasneem Masqati
    Scholastic Kids Press Corps


    Monday, February 13—What an exciting day at Cesana Pariol Graniere in Torino, Italy, where the Luge Women's Singles competition took place.

    Luge, which is the French word for sled, is known as the fastest sport on ice, with racers reaching speeds up to 85 mph. Athletes ride on a sled face-up, along a curvy and narrow path of ice. To help them accelerate, the athletes wear a lead jacket around their waist. The excess weight increases their speed down the luge track.

    Four runs are held over two days in the luge competition. After the first two runs, Germany are in first, second and third place!

    In first is Sylke Otto, with a total time of 1:33.861. Following in second place is Silke Kraushaar, at 1:34.129. And in third is Tatjana Huefner at 1:34.378.

    The U.S. almost made it to the top three but is in fourth with Courtney Zablocki's total of 1:34.382. U.S. racer Erin Hamlin is 17th at 1:36.476.

    Unfortunately, American luger Samantha Retrosi did not finish her second run due to a serious crash. About two-thirds of the way through the race, she smashed into the barrier on the high side of the track. Her coach reported that "she will be just fine."

    The next two runs will be held on Tuesday. Be sure to tune in to NBC to see if Germany continues to dominate the standings or if the U.S. finally makes its way to the top.

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    United States' Tony Benshoof completes the third run of the men's singles luge final at the 2006 Winter Olympics
    United States' Tony Benshoof completes the third run of the men's singles luge final at the 2006 Winter Olympics on February 12, 2006.
    (Photo: Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images/NewsCom)
    Still No U.S. Luge Medals
    Benshoof misses a bronze by two tenths of a second in men's singles luge
    By Ben Silberman
    Scholastic Kids Press Corps


    Sunday, February 12—The U.S. Olympic luge team has never won an Olympic medal. Tony Benshoof, a 30-year-old athlete from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, was this year's best hope for grabbing a medal. He came close but lost out by less then two tenths of a second.

    Instead, the Italians won their first gold of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games when Armin Zoeggeler zipped over the finish line of his final run in 3 minutes, 26.088 seconds.

    Russia's Albert Demtschenko finished 0.11 seconds behind Zoeggeler for the silver. Latvia's Martins Rubenis took the bronze, edging out Benshoof.

    Benshoof was third in the standings today when the athletes lined up for the third of four runs. He began the competition with a look of confidence. He wanted to win the first U.S. medal since luge became an Olympic sport in 1964.

    On his third run, Benshoof got off to a bad start. He then skidded a little on the 14th twist of the 19 curves in the course. In luge, even the slightest skid can cost you the whole race. That skid placed Benshoof behind Martins Rubenis of Latvia.

    Things were looking up in his fourth and final run. Benshoof was behind Rubenis by only .068 seconds. That should have been no problem for someone who was ranked third in the World Cup circuit.

    When he came out for his final run, he looked stressed and nervous, but once he started, he was flawless. While he was shooting down the ice, he looked calm and relaxed, which is an important part of the sport. At the finish, he was smiling and hugging everyone in sight. The crowd in the stands chanted, "Tony! Tony! Tony!" It looked like he was assured of a bronze.

    Now for Rubenis' turn on the ice. He started off fast and began to gain speed. After each turn, it was clear that he was beating Benshoof. When the final time came in, he was .08 seconds faster, pushing Benshoof off the medals podium into fourth place.

    The next luge event is set for Tuesday, February 14 and will feature the women's singles.

    Double luge competition begins on Wednesday, February 15.

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    Photos, left to right: © Rick Rickman/NewSport/NewSport/Corbis; © Joe Cavaretta/AP Wide World.