Two-time Olympic champion Felix Loch of Germany today banished the demons of his defeat in the World Championships last year by taking victory ahead of Russia’s Semen Pavlichenko at the International Luge Federation (FIL) World Cup in Sigulda.
Loch, who is bidding to earn a fifth straight overall crown, was second behind the Russian at the Latvian venue last year but was able to secure his 27th men’s singles win with a combined time of 1min 36.316sec.
The German posted the quickest opening run, finishing the course in 48.136, before he clocked 48.180 to edge the reigning world champion by 0.215 seconds.
American slider Tucker West rounded off the podium as he clinched bronze with a total time of 1:36.775, beating Loch's teammate Ralf Palik by a slender 0.004 margin.
World Championship bronze medallist Wolfgang Kindl of Austria, who endured a difficult outing as he could only manage seventh, was able to cling on to his overall World Cup lead as he currently has 511 points.
Loch is 21 adrift on 490 as his victory saw him climb into second place ahead of American Chris Mazdzer, who finished eighth.
“Thankfully we’re heading to the German tracks now - Oberhof followed by the main event of the season, the World Championships in Königssee,” Loch said.
“One of my main objectives is to win a fifth overall World Cup.
“I made some silly mistakes early on in the season.
“It was never a real decline, but things are back to normal now.”
Loch, who was disqualified from the World Cup opener in Igls due to an overweight sled, completed a double of race wins in Sigulda as he was part of the German quartet which reigned supreme in the team relay event.
The German side, which also included Tatjana Hüfner and the doubles pairing of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, finished in a combined time of 2:14.386 to oust the Latvian team, made up of Eliza Cauce, Arturs Darznieks and doubles duo Oskars Gudramovics and Peteris Kalnins.
Tatiana Ivanova, Semen Pavlichenko and duo Andrey Bogdanov and Andrey Medvedev sealed bronze for Russia in 2:14.757.
Germany moved into second on the overall leaderboard on 246, with current leaders Latvia nine ahead on 255.
The Luge World Cup season continues in Oberhof next weekend.