IGLS, Austria (AP) — A year ago, Germany’s Felix Loch endured the worst season of his career.
This year, he’s enjoying perhaps the most dominant season in men’s luge history.
Loch is the World Cup men’s overall champion for the seventh time, clinching the title Saturday with his ninth win in 10 races this season. He leads German teammate Johannes Ludwig by 320 points with two races remaining.
If Loch wins both — World Cup luge races are worth 100 points for winners, 85 points for runners-up — he would be assured of breaking his own record for the biggest seasonlong points margin. He topped Germany’s Andi Langenhan by 330 points on the way to the 2014-15 championship.
Loch was seventh in last season’s standings, his worst finish since becoming a full-time member of the World Cup circuit in 2007. He’s the third men’s luger to win at least seven World Cup titles; Austria’s Markus Prock and Italy’s Armin Zöggeler won 10 championships apiece.
Loch wrapped up the title in style, rallying in the second heat of Saturday’s race to beat Russia’s Semen Pavlichenko by six-thousandths of a second. Ludwig was third.
For the U.S., Jonny Gustafson was 18th and Chris Mazdzer 19th. Tucker West was ninth after the first heat but didn’t finish his second heat.
In doubles, Italy’s Ludwig Rieder and Patrick Rastner got their first World Cup race win Saturday by holding off the Latvian sled of Andris Sics and Juris Sics. Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koller of Austria placed third, moving closer to clinching the season title.
Steu and Koller lead Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken by 111 points with two races left.
Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman, the lone USA Luge sled in the doubles field, had trouble in their second run Saturday and finished 24th.