Luge officials change qualifying formula for Beijing Games

The International Luge Federation has changed some of the qualifying rules for the upcoming Beijing Olympics, largely because many teams and sliders have been forced to use borrowed equipment for the last several weeks.

Instead of using the results from seven World Cup races through Jan. 10 to determine how to allocate starting spots to various nations, the federation decided that it would now eliminate the three worst finishes for each slider and re-calculate accordingly.

It could be a major boost for some athletes who struggled in recent weeks while not having their regular equipment. Nearly three dozen boxes of equipment — including some sleds, which typically are finely honed to each slider’s individual liking — did not make it out of China following three weeks of training there this fall, forcing some athletes to compete in the next three World Cup events without their regular gear.

“These unfortunate circumstances resulted in significant disadvantages for a number of athletes and nations with regard to their qualification for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games,” read part of the federation’s explanation for the policy shift.

The rule changes could benefit athletes who miss races for various reasons and couldn’t accrue points. U.S. Olympic veteran Emily Sweeney had to miss two World Cup races in Russia; she is an active soldier in the U.S. Army but couldn’t go to the races at the 2014 Sochi Olympics venue because of current military rules prohibiting travel to Russia.

Two-time Olympic men’s singles champion Felix Loch of Germany cannot race this weekend in Igls, Austria, after testing positive for COVID-19. Also out this weekend after a positive test is German women’s Olympic hopeful Dajana Eitberger.

“Stay positive, become negative,” Loch said when revealing his positive test. “Unfortunately, after a routine corona test, I tested positive. I’m fine, I’m at home and will spend the Christmas days with my family for the first time in my life.”

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