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Germany

Germany Leads Olympic Medal Chase

After a week of golden female performances, the German men join in with a luge victory that slides their team into the top medal-winning position.

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Icy determination

Their admirers call them the "Flying Bavarians," but the humble duo of German luge-wizards call themselves "fools".

Patric-Fritz Leitner and Alexander Resch’s humility may be on the wane after their gold medal victory in Saturday’s two-man luge event – the first gold for Team Germany’s male contingent – which shot the team and its fans into euphoria.

A week into the winter games, their combined time of 1 minute, 26.082 second – 0.134 seconds faster than the United States duo that won silver – put Germany firmly in first place as the top medal winner.

Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympiade Logo

Germany's five golds, eight silvers and five bronzes so far add up to 18 medals. The US trails with 16, followed by Austria’s 12. Norway, meanwhile is the top gold-winner with seven.

"I never believed that fools like us could win the gold medal at the Olympics," said Leitner, who told journalists he’s promised himself a marathon party to prove his stamina.

"We have crashed about 50 times in our career but this year only three times and here we didn't crash at all."

Leitner and Resch, soldiers and reigning luge World Cup champions, almost did crash in Salt Lake City, risking it all for speed. On their second and final run, they clipped a wall and endured a dangerous wobble.

Ladies first

All in all, the ladies are still outperforming the men. Germany women have won four golds to their male team-mates’ one, and in overall medals the balance is eleven to seven.

Biathlon and luge are the strongest sports, for Germany’s men and women, though the ladies speed-skaters have rocketed onto the medal stand, and other successes have come in alpine skiing and ski-jumping.

Andrea Henkel gewinnt Goldmedaille

So far, perhaps the most enduring image of German victory in these Olympic Games is that of Andrea Henkel, the underdog biathlete from the town of Grossbreitenbach, who rocketed to a gold-medal performance in the 15-kilometre event, and kissed her gold medal adorably after receiving it.

Meanwhile, the greatest disappointment so far was failure of dominant luge veteran Georg Hackl to become the first winter Olympian to win four consecutive gold medals in the same individual event. Huge expectations had been placed on the man from Berchtesgaden, who wound up with a silver.

But a silver, after all, is nothing to frown about.

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