On their backs or on their bellies, by themselves or in pairs, competing in a relay — it has not mattered for Germany.
German athletes are repeatedly sailing down the National Sliding Center’s track and coming back up with medals. Through Saturday, their record was perfect: six events, six golds.
With devoted resources and four domestic tracks, Germany has long been a powerhouse in sliding sports. But it is extending its dominance another level at the Beijing Games.
Germans first swept the golds in the four luge disciplines, winning the men’s and women’s singles and the men’s doubles, and then putting those champions together for the team event. Few were surprised when that squad, too, collected a gold.
Next came skeleton, the event where athletes hurl themselves headfirst down the track. Christopher Grotheer won gold in the men’s event before Hannah Neise’s surprising first in the women’s competition interrupted a procession of three straight British champions in the event. Until this year, skeleton had been the only sliding sport in which Germany had never won the gold. Now, it has two in a weekend.
“It means a lot, especially for skeleton sliders,” Neise said of her victory. “We haven’t had so many medals the past years, and we are very proud to represent our country and our federation. It’s a step forward for us.”
In many of the early sliding competitions, Germany’s dominance was so complete that it featured teammates competing with one another for podium positioning. The country also collected silver medals in women’s singles and men’s doubles luge and in men’s skeleton.
“Every race we want to beat each other,” said Axel Jungk, who finished second to Grotheer. “I think this is the reason why we are so good this year: We push each other to the limits.”
Germany’s shot at a clean sweep of the sliding events may end soon, however. Laura Nolte ranks third after the first two heats in monobob, and trails the overnight leader, Kaillie Humphries of the United States, by 1.22 seconds heading into the final two runs on Monday.
“But you can see you can easily lose a second in the run, like I did,” Nolte said. “So yeah, we won’t give up yet.”
Any time spent away from gold may be short lived for Germany, however: The pilot Francesco Friedrich will be a favorite in the two-man and four-man bobsled events.