Organizers cut short Russian luge guru’s Olympic dream

Russia's hopes of a second gong in Canada have been put on hold, after Turin silver medalist Albert Demchenko finished just outside the podium in the men's singles luge event.

Demchenko found himself right behind Turin champion Armin Zöggeler of Italy, who had to settle for bronze.

Top honors went to a pair of Germans, Felix Loch and David Muller, taking gold and silver respectively.

Risk-laden speed guru Albert Demchenko was among the favorites in Vancouver, as the Canadian track is considered one of the fastest in the world.

But following Friday’s tragedy during a practice run in Whistler, where Georgian luge contestant Nodar Kumaritashvilli fatally crashed, organizers decided to shorten the track by moving the start further down the mountain. The alteration worked to slow the sleds, and tilted the balance of competition, giving more chances to the athletes who are more adept at the start than on gliding along the track.

“There is no use crying over spilt milk now,” said Demchenko after the race. “But I really lacked those 200 meters which were cut out by the organizers. I could have won the Olympics, but it’s too late, too late.” 

Demchenko has participated in six Olympic Games, but never won a gold medal.

So the the 38-year-old has vowed to return for the Games in Sochi in 2014, and he also spoke of the death of his former training partner Nodar Kumaritashvilli.

“Of course his death had a really strong impact on us, but sport is sport and these are the Olympics and we all needed to compete because the fate of the luge depends on the Olympics,” he said.