Geisenberger raring to go for double Olympic defence
Since collecting women’s singles and mixed team relay gold at Sochi 2014, German luger Natalie Geisenberger has not stopped winning. A multiple World Cup winner and world and European champion in both events, she will return to the Olympic stage at PyeongChang 2018 aiming for yet more glory.
Geisenberger has won virtually everything there is to win since her golden luge double at Sochi 2014. The trainee police officer claimed four consecutive FIL World Cup titles between 2014 and 2017, not to mention three women’s singles crowns at the World Championships - in 2013 in Whistler, (CAN), in 2015 in Sigulda (LAT) and in 2016 in Königsee (GER). Just for good measure, she won mixed team relay gold at each of those world championships with Felix Loch and the two Tobiases, Wendl and Arlt.
The only blemish on Geisenberger’s post-Sochi record came at the 2017 World Championships in Igls (AUT). A lowly 17th after a disappointing first run, she went fastest in the second to place sixth in a competition won by her compatriot Tatjana Hüfner, the 2010 Olympic champion.
Clean sweep in Sochi
A singles bronze medallist at the age of 21 at Vancouver 2010, Geisenberger traded up to a gold in Sochi after going fastest in each of the four runs, finishing a whole 1.139 seconds ahead of Hüfner.
Two days later, Geisenberger was first down the track for Germany in the mixed team relay, which was making its Olympic debut. She was followed by newly crowned Olympic men’s singles champion Felix Loch and men’s double gold medallists Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, as the German quartet swept to the gold by 1.03 seconds from Russia.
In the fourth run of the singles I knew by the time I’d got down to the bottom that I’d won the Olympic title and I was almost screaming with joy before I’d even crossed the finish line. Natalie Geisenberger Germany - Natalie Geisenberger Germany
“I need more time to achieve absolutely everything I want to,” said Geisenberger after her Sochi double. “In the fourth run of the singles I knew by the time I’d got down to the bottom that I’d won the Olympic title and I was almost screaming with joy before I’d even crossed the finish line.
“I am in the form of my life,” she continued. “I’m just amazed. I might never get the chance to win Olympic gold again, so I’m delighted to have taken this opportunity to win.”
The big breakthrough
Born in Munich on 5 February 1988, Geisenberger grew up 50 kilometres away in Miesbach, in the mountains of Bavaria. The town has a summer luge track, and after learning her trade at the local luge club, she went on to enjoy a brilliant junior career.
The winner of 14 Junior World Cup events, the German won the overall title three times and also landed six junior world titles between 2004 and 2007 (three in the singles and three in the team events).
She collected her first senior European title on the Olympic track at Cesana Pariol (ITA) in 2008 and picked up an Under-23 world title on the same track three years later. Four times an overall World Cup runner-up to Hüfner between 2009 and 2012, Geisenberger began dominating women’s luge in the wake of her 2014 Olympic double.
She posted seven race wins out of nine that season, eight the following year, three in 2015/16 (as well as a host of top-three finishes) and four in the 2016/17 campaign, during which she marked her 29th birthday by winning the singles and team events at Oberhof (GER).
Happy memories of PyeongChang
The German clinched her fourth consecutive World Cup crown with a second place behind Russia’s Tatyana Ivanova at the PyeongChang 2018 test event at the Alpensia Sliding Centre in February 2017. Joining forces with Andi Langernhan and doubles partners Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken, Geisenberger also won the team relay at the same meet.
She kicked off the Olympic season in impressive fashion in late October 2017, winning her fifth German title in Altenberg, and when she returns to the Republic of Korea in February 2018, she will do so with her sights firmly set on retaining both of her Olympic titles.