Host City: Vancouver, Canada
Venue(s): Whistler Sliding Centre, Whistler
Date Started: February 15, 2010
Date Finished: February 16, 2010
Format: Four runs, total time determined placement.
Germany’s female lugers had maintained their unbeaten run in all World Cup events since the Torino Games and regularly filled all three places on the podium. As such it seemed an obvious prediction that two time World Champion Tatjana Hüfner and compatriots Natalie Geisenberger and Anke Wischnewski would be the sliders to beat in Vancouver.
The main threat to German victory came from a pair of North Americans.
In February 2009 American Erin Hamlin had broken the 15-year run of German victories in major global championships by becoming the first World Champion from the USA whilst Alex Gough of Canada, 8th in the 2009-10 World Cup, had more experience on the track conditions than any other slider.
Following the tragic death of Nodar Kumaritashvili in practice it was decided that the women’s course would be over a shorter distance than originally planned, namely the junior course. This brought criticism particularly by the Canadian team, that some thought a little tactless considering the circumstances, that the contest would be turned into a lottery.
While this change was thought to favour those lugers with a more powerful start this proved only partially to be the case. The angle of the start, designed for junior races, was not designed for the power of the senior races. The racers had to make a compromise between the need to carry the speed of a powerful start and the necessity to negotiate a difficult corner without being forced up high onto the ice wall and losing all the advantage gained.
The Germans Tatjana Hüfner and Natalie Geisenberger were favoured to take the first two medals but, rather surprisingly Nina Reithmayer (AUT) led after the first run in a track record time of 41.728 seconds. However Hüfner clawed her way back to take the lead after the second run and retained her lead for the rest of the competition to take the gold medal with the fastest runs in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th runs. Reithmayer managed to hold on to the silver medal place ahead of Geisenberger who, despite having only the 7th best time on the final run, held on to take the bronze from fast finishing [Tatiana Ivanova] (RUS).
World champion Erin Hamlin failed to cope with the changes to the circuit and placed a lowly 16th as European athletes took the first 14 places in the finishing order.
The safety of the competitors was paramount after the tragic death of Nodar Kumaritashvili on a training run but the women’s event was not entirely free of injury. Violeta Stramaturaru of Romania was knocked unconscious during a training run and the ensuing concussion forced her to withdraw from the Games.
|16||Erin Hamlin||23||United States||USA||2:49.108|
|17||Julia Clukey||24||United States||USA||2:49.360|
|22||Megan Sweeney||22||United States||USA||2:50.215|