December 06, 2014

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) Natalie Geisenberger of Germany did what she usually does on race day. And even American Erin Hamlin's best showing in a World Cup race couldn't derail her.

Geisenberger won her 26th World Cup singles luge gold on Saturday, finishing two runs at Mount Van Hoevenberg in 1 minute, 28.173 seconds to hold off Hamlin by 0.499 seconds.

Hamlin, a native of Remsen, New York, got her first silver after six World Cup individual bronzes and helped add to a successful weekend for USA Luge. Germany's Tatjana Huefner was another 0.15 seconds back for the bronze.

''It would have been nice to be able to capitalize on home ice a little bit better,'' said Hamlin, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist who won the world championship on her Lake Placid home ice in 2009. ''My runs weren't perfect. I had a couple mistakes that were kind of a bummer, but what can you do?''

Against Geisenberger, not much.

It's the 22nd consecutive time where the Olympic champion was either first or second when she competed against an international field. Later Saturday, she also helped Germany win the team relay, with Italy second and the United States finishing third to cap a three-medal weekend for the hosts.

Americans and Germans filled the top eight slots in the women's order of finish, the first time that's happened. Emily Sweeney of Suffield, Connecticut, and Summer Britcher of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, were fifth and sixth respectively for the U.S., career-best World Cup finishes for both sliders. Julia Clukey of Augusta, Maine, was eighth.

''Hopefully we can keep that momentum going,'' said Sweeney, who established a World Cup career-best for the second straight weekend after finishing seventh in the season-opener at Igls, Austria.

USA Luge was bidding for its first double-gold World Cup weekend in singles sliding in 23 seasons. Tucker West won the men's race on Friday; if Hamlin had upset Geisenberger on Saturday, it would be the first dual-gold World Cup for the U.S. since Cameron Myler and Duncan Kennedy achieved the feat at Lake Placid on Jan. 18, 1992.

Geisenberger, Felix Loch and the doubles team of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the team relay Saturday afternoon in 2:34.886. Italy was second in 2:35.546 and the U.S. team of Hamlin, West and Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman took bronze in 2:35.638.

That bronze was the 13th medal Hamlin has won in major international competition, including World Cup races, world championships and the Olympics.

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