Peerless Loch to lead German medal charge

Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:01pm EST
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By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - Defending Olympic champion Felix Loch could not have hoped for a better Sochi 2014 Olympic preparation than leading the world standings and claiming the German title days before the end of last year.

With Germany eager to be among the top nations on the medals table, the ever-smiling Loch is aware of the pressure resting on him, given his country's dominance in the sport.

German athletes have won four of the last six individual luge gold medals, interrupted only by double gold medalist Armin Zoeggeler of Italy.

The 1.91 meter-tall (6ft 3in) Loch, who credits his height and weight for giving him extra speed when he hurls himself down the icy track at more than 145 kilometers per hour (90mph), has had a near perfect run-up to the Games at the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi starting in February.

He grabbed a World Cup win at Whistler, Canada, site of his 2010 Vancouver Games gold medal run, in December to go top of the overall standings before landing his fourth German title days later.

In between he was among an elite group of German athletes to be named for the Olympics as the traditional winter sports powerhouse aims to finish among the top three nations in the medals table.

"We are well set for Sochi. The preparation is going according to plan," beamed Loch, who was the youngest Olympic luge champion four years ago at age 20.

His last race of the year at Park City was less successful with Zoeggeler, who has won medals at five consecutive Games, setting the pace and Loch coming in fifth.   Continued...

Germany's Felix Loch presents his gold medal after winning the FIL Luge World Championships in Altenberg February 11, 2012. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler