Geisenberger wins 8th luge overall World Cup women’s title

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger ended this season in her usual spot, atop the women’s luge world.

Geisenberger clinched her eighth World Cup overall championship Sunday with a 13th-place finish in the season finale in St. Moritz, Switzerland. She won seven consecutive World Cups from 2012-13 through 2018-19, took last season off for the birth of her first child and reclaimed the crystal globe this winter.

Geisenberger is the two-time defending Olympic women’s champion, has been no worse than third in her last 13 World Cup seasons — not including the one where she sat out, of course — and this was the 22nd consecutive season in which a German woman won the World Cup points title.

Geisenberger also extended her record for World Cup women’s titles; no one else has more than five.

“I think it says what we already knew — that she has been a league above us,” USA Luge veteran Emily Sweeney said. “In the past years, you watch her on the sled and she had all the components. There are a lot of athletes that are missing a few. I’m missing a few. I’m always working on a few components, but she’s the total package. And so, to show that after coming back, it’s really impressive.”

Geisenberger wasn’t as dominant as in past years, but she was remarkably consistent: She won two golds and nine silvers in 12 women’s races this season, with Sunday being the only one where she wasn’t first or second.

“If someone had told me in the summer that I would win the overall World Cup as well as a silver medal at the world championships, I would have taken it immediately,” Geisenberger said.

A major snowstorm Sunday brought odd endings to an odd season. A pair of Ukrainian sliders couldn’t get to the track because the road from their hotel wasn’t plowed in time, and the team relay — the last race of the season — was canceled because the snow was causing issues with the timing. The U.S. was the only nation to complete the relay before it was called off.

Elina Ieva Vitola of Latvia was the surprise winner of the women’s race, followed by Germany’s Julia Taubitz and Switzerland’s Natalie Maag. Taubitz won the World Cup title last season in Geisenberger’s absence and finished second in the points race this season.

Summer Britcher was 15th for USA Luge, Sweeney was 18th, Ashley Farquharson was 24th and Brittney Arndt 26th.

Germany, to no one’s surprise, was again the dominant nation in luge this winter — winning 61 of the 123 medals handed out on the World Cup circuit as well as 12 of the 21 medals at last month’s world championships.

USA Luge, which skipped the first half of the season because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic and international travel, finished the year with one medal. Britcher won a bronze at Igls, Austria, two weeks ago.

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