Host City: Lake Placid, United States
Venue(s): Mt. Van Hoevenberg Recreation Area, Lake Placid
Date Started: February 23, 1980
Date Finished: February 24, 1980
Format: Four runs, total time determined placement.
The German Democratic Republic had caused a surprise by winning the 1976 Olympic title but by the start of the 1980 Games they were overwhelming favourites. It was true that they did not arrive at Lake Placid as world champions as their West German rivals had used home advantage to claim the 1979 title and it was also true that Switzerland had already bested them in the two-man event but East Germany were still expected to dominate.
[Manfred Nehmer]’s GDR I sled put down a marker in their first run and recorded the first sub-one minute time in the track’s history. Reunited with brakeman [Bernard Germeshausen]
after the two had competed in separate teams in the two-man event he was the class of the field in the first three runs and his time of 59.73 in run three again broke the track record. Two-man champion [Erich Schärer] posted the best time of the final run and this proved just enough to edge Switzerland I ahead of the other East German crew.
Further down the field as part of the US I crew that finished in twelfth place was [Willie Davenport], the same Willie Davenport who twelve years earlier in Mexico City had won the 110 m hurdles gold. [Jonnie Woodall] of Great Britain recorded his best Olympic finish of ninth in this event but his appearance was more notable for the fact that he became the first and, to 2010, only person to compete in both singles and doubles luge and two-man and four-man bobsleigh.