HEATS 1 AND 2: RESULTS AND STANDINGS
HEATS 1 AND 2: FULL EVENT REPLAY
"The Dragon" snapped at just about everyone during Monday's first set of women's singles heats.
Madeleine Egle flipped over. Julia Taubitz spun out. Emily Sweeney crashed - twice. Curve 13, ominously referred to as "The Dragon's Tail," whipped them all.
At that point on the Yanqing National Sliding Centre course, lugers gain some momentum off a small hill and immediately hit a sharp curve. If they go too fast, too slow, or don't center themselves exactly as the track demands, they'll smack the sidewall.
Only Germany's two-time defending gold medalist Natalie Geisenberger and compatriot Anna Berreiter got through the notoriously serpentine track unscathed.
Separated by just 0.208 seconds, the 34-year-old Geisenberger now looks to further cement her status as the greatest-ever luger, while the 22-year-old Berreiter hopes to add an Olympic gold to her collection of World Cup medals. They'll have to balance the caution the Dragon demands with the need to shave off each and every possible thousandth of a second.
If either Geisenberger or Berreiter wins - and one of them should - Germany would raise its established women's singles streak from six to seven consecutive gold medals. It is the longest active gold run for any country at the Winter Olympics. The only potential spoilers: ROC's Tatyana Ivanova, and Austria's Hannah Prock or Lisa Schulte, who round out the top five. One of them will almost certainly earn bronze, but their only hope for gold or silver depends on Geisenberger or Berreiter speeding into "The Dragon's" clutches.
That's an unlikely scenario. But even ace Julia Taubitz took a spill on the demanding course during her second heat.
Unfortunately, Americans Ashley Farquharson (18th), Summer Britcher (26th), and Sweeney (28th) are far from medal contention following ugly wipeouts. In fact, Britcher and Sweeney - who barely survived a final heat crash at PyeongChang 2018 that fractured her neck and spine - will be lucky to complete all four runs, as only the top-20 advance to the final.