THE MEDAL RACE
In all likelihood, the first and second men's singles runs probably narrowed the opportunity for gold to the top three athletes - though an outsider could always upset the field:
- German leader Johannes Ludwig, the 2021-22 World Cup singles champion whose initial run broke the Yanqing National Sliding Centre course record on Saturday.
- Austria's current second-place luger, Wolfgang Kindl, who served as runner-up in this season's World Cup rankings, is just 0.039 seconds shy of first at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
- Italian Dominik Fischnaller, who barely missed a medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, finished seventh in the World Cup standings.
Germany's Felix Loch (4th) and Latvia's Kristers Aparjods (4th) could at least put dents in their respective 0.382 and 0.460 differentials, if not earn a medal. But given their consistency and advantages, Ludwig and Kindl are the heavy favorites for gold.
But they're still performing well at these Games. Consider this: Mazdzer broke his foot in September and has struggled since, barely earning the last U.S. singles berth and missing out on doubles with partner Jayson Terdiman.
West finished 22nd at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, 26th at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, and ranked 23rd at the end of the 2021-22 World Cup season. Gustafson is primarily a sprint racer who is making his Olympic debut at age 24.
The competition is only halfway through and who knows what surprises Team USA has in store.
The luge men's singles competition concludes Sunday, Feb. 6 at 6:30 AM ET.