Pyeongchang (South Korea) (AFP) – Felix Loch made a critical error late in his final run Sunday to surrender his Olympic luge title and make schnapps-drinking David Gleirscher the first Austrian men’s winner in the event in 50 years.
The 28-year-old German Loch was on the verge of history in Pyeongchang, where he was just seconds away from becoming the sport’s first four-time gold medallist.
The German great was homing in on victory until he miscalculated in the final section and finished down in fifth, looking inconsolable afterwards.
But there was joy for the unheralded Gleirscher, 23, who took gold ahead of the American Chris Mazdzer.
Gleirscher is just the second Austrian to win the men’s luge at the Olympics, after Manfred Schmid at Grenoble 1968.
“I can’t believe it, it’s just a magic moment,” said Gleirscher.
“I just brought down a good run and I am just happy that this happened.
“In the first moment I thought Felix is going to be Olympic champion, and then he made a mistake.
“It’s just magic… I can’t describe this, it’s just unbelievable.”
Austria coach Tobias Schiegl revealed that he had an unusual recipe for Olympic success.
“We drank a schnapps yesterday, you know schnapps from Austria, and I think that is the best thing you can do,” he said.
Johannes Ludwig of Germany won the bronze medal and he said that countryman Loch’s failure to even make the podium was proof that “he’s only human too, like we all are.
“Everybody can make mistakes and he did one, and it was lucky for me,” said Ludwig.