Felix Loch has amassed six overall World Cup titles, twelve championship golds, and three Olympic gold medals as a professional luger. He has put together one of the finest records in the sport. But did you know he had one of his gold medals melted into two?
German luger Felix Loch had his 2010 Vancouver gold medal melted into two discs. He gave one disc to the parents of a competitor who died in a practice run on the opening day of the Olympics.
Who is Felix Loch?
On July 24, 1989, Felix Loch was born to German luger Norbert Loch. Loch’s father represented Germany in the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics. The German luger began his career at a very young age. He started competing in 1995. He then graduated from the junior competition and joined the German National team in 2006, winning individual and team junior world titles. (Source: Olympics)
By the time he turned 18, Loch had become the youngest luge world champion, and a year after, he set a new world luge speed record of 153.9 kilometers per hour at the Whistler Sliding Center. From then on, he constantly won competitions, bringing home fourteen medals in the FIL World Luge Championships, twelve of which were gold. He also won mixed team events (Source: WikiProject Topics)
Loch has received many praises from his competitors and champions in the sport. Former Italian Olympic luge champion Armin Zöggeler, who won gold in Salt Lake in 2002 and Turin in 2006, mentioned that Loch is very talented and his physique is perfect for the sport. He also praised Loch for his dedication and hard work and predicted that Loch would be the best in luge very soon.
After winning gold in 2010, the German luger defended his title in Sochi in 2014. Loch became a three-time Olympic gold medalist at the young age of 24. His passion and dedication to the sport helped him earn many more titles. He won three consecutive World Cup Crowns and completed a golden hat trick at the 2016 World Championships. (Source: Olympics)
The 2010 Winter Olympics Tragedy
In the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, twenty-one-year-old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was on his final official training run when a tragedy occurred. He was thrown from his sled, coming out of the last turn of the 4,500-foot long course. He struck an unpadded steel pole.
Kumaritashvili was scheduled to compete in the men’s singles luge event, and his training run was merely hours away from the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics. Videos of the accident showed the Georgian luger motionless. Unfortunately, the doctors at the hospital could not revive the athlete.
Officials investigated the accident and found that it was caused by human error. Kumaritashvili was going 88 miles per hour before crashing on the sixteenth turn. According to experts, this particular luge course is the fastest. Some speculated that the track flattens out around the eleventh turn in other luge courses, but the Whistling Sliding Center doesn’t. What this means for the athletes is that by the time they reach the eleventh turn, they are most probably at their top speed, and any slight error would be fatal. Athletes would have a challenging time correcting their positions after this turn.
At the culmination of the Games, Loch, 20 years old at the time, won the gold medal. He had his medal melted down and recast into two. He had the image of Kumaritashvili inscribed on one and personally delivered it to the Georgian athlete’s parents. (Source: CNN)