NEED FOR SPEED: Latvia’s luge team needs to shape up if it is to regain its place as one of the world’s leading countries for the sport.
RIGA - Last weekend provided a rather forgettable FIL Luge World Championship for the Latvian contingent competing in Altenberg, Germany, with only three medals over the course of the two-day event.
Latvia’s best results would come in the second event of the weekend, when last year’s bronze medalists, brothers Andris and Juris Sics, claimed ninth place in the men’s doubles, finishing 0.816 seconds behind the winning team, Andreas and Wolfgang Linger.
It has been a tough season for the brothers. They suffered a major setback during pre-season training when Andris was involved in a car accident that would have a major impact on his training regime.
Following the Sics home in 10th position was the second Latvian pairing of Oskars Gudramovics and Peteris Kalnins.
Earlier on Saturday, none of the three Latvians entered in the men’s race would come close to threatening for a podium position. Inars Kivlenieks was the first of the trio in 16th position; 1.635 seconds behind winner Felix Loch of Germany.
The 2006 Winter Olympic bronze medalist, Martins Rubenis, ended his two runs in 19th position. Kristaps Maurins failed to qualify for a second run, finishing his first in 29th place.
On Sunday the results were no less promising, with Eliza Tiruma lucky to come out of a nasty accident unscathed. Going down the track on her first run, the 21-year-old came completely dislodged from her sled traveling at over 90km/h. However, she miraculously regain control of the sled to finish the race, with the slowest time.
Older sister Maija ended the day in 15th.
In the final event of the weekend, the teams relay, the Sics brothers, Kivlenieks and Maija Tiruma would combine to make up a Latvian team aiming to medal at a third consecutive Championship.
Going first, Tiruma set the seventh quickest time for the women. Kivlenieks began strongly to have the team sitting as high as fourth position, but by the end of his run the team would still be sitting in the seventh position. The Sics brothers were unable to improve on seventh with their doubles run.
All the Latvian lugers will be looking to quickly put the Championship results behind them as they refocus on the World Cup series, which moves to their home track in Sigulda, Latvia this weekend.