THE MEDAL RACE
In all likelihood, the first and second men's singles heats probably narrowed the opportunity for gold to the top three athletes - though an outsider could always upset the field:
- German leader Johannes Ludwig, the 2021-22 World Cup singles champion whose initial run broke the Yanqing National Sliding Centre course record on Saturday.
- Austria's current second-place slider, Wolfgang Kindl, who served as runner-up in this season's World Cup rankings. Kindl is just 0.039 seconds shy of first at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
- Italian Dominik Fischnaller, who barely missed a medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. Fischnaller finished seventh in the World Cup standings.
Germany's fourth-place Felix Loch and Latvia's fifth-place Kristers Aparjods lugers could at least put dents in their respective 0.382 and 0.460 differentials, if not earn a medal. But given their consistency and advantages, Ludwig and Kindl are the heavy favorites for gold.
It's unlikely Chris Mazdzer (9th place), Tucker West (11th place), or Jonny Gustafson (18th place) will earn a surprise silver at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
But they're still doing exceptionally well at these Games.
Consider this: Mazdzer broke his foot in September and has struggled since, barely earning the last U.S. singles berth and missing out on doubles with partner Jayson Terdiman.
SEE MORE: Chris Mazdzer in ninth place after luge heats 1 and 2
SEE MORE: Luge men's heats 1 & 2: Leader Ludwig breaks course record, Mazdzer in ninth
West finished 22nd at the 2014 Sochi Games, 26th at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, and ranked 23rd at the end of the 2021-22 World Cup season. Gustafson is primarily a sprint racer who is making his Olympic debut at age 24.
The competition is only halfway through, and who knows what surprises Team USA has in store?
The luge men's singles competition concludes Sunday, February 6th at 6:30 AM ET.