Germany stepped up their dominance of the Beijing luge track Tuesday as Natalie Geisenberger won her third straight Winter Games gold in the women’s singles to claim a record-equalling sixth Olympic medal.
Having been crowned European champion in Saint Moritz last month, Geisenberger defended her Olympic title 18 months after giving birth to her son Leo.
“It was always the goal at some point to race for another medal here, but the fact it was enough to race for gold again is crazy,” she said.
“I couldn’t have done it without my family.”
The 34-year-old successfully defended her Olympic crown with a combined winning time of 3min 54.507sec at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre.
She grabbed a German flag after jumping off her sled with tears of joy on her cheeks.
Geisenberger’s victory comes two days after German team-mate Johannes Ludwig won the men’s Olympic title.
Having now won a career total of five golds and a bronze, Geisenberger has matched the record of six Olympic medals won by Italian luge legend Armin Zoeggeler.
She can become the most decorated luge racer in Olympic history in the team relay on Thursday.
Geisenberger’s team-mate Anna Berreiter took silver at 0.493sec behind with Russia’s Tatyana Ivanova finishing with bronze, 1.053sec back.
Berreiter, 22, said it was “simply overwhelming that I can now hold the silver in my hands. It hasn’t sunk in”.
Geisenberger admitted being more nervous of the Olympic track’s tricky 13th curve than the final heats.
She crashed at the same spot in training Sunday and in last November’s test event.
The same curve on the course nicknamed the ‘flying snow dragon’ cost German team-mate Julia Taubitz the chance of a medal after this season’s World Cup winner also crashed there in Monday’s heats.
Taubitz, who came to Beijing as one of the favourites, ended up a disappointing seventh.
“It wasn’t what I had hoped for,” said the 25-year-old.
Geisenberger, the overnight leader, started Tuesday’s decisive heats with a new track record of 58.226 seconds.
She clocked a top speed of 128.4 kilometres (80 miles) per hour over the 1475 metres course, then held her nerve in the fourth heat to clinch victory.