For Latvian fans watching the Winter Olympics tally, the steady rise of Mārtiņš Rubenis in the men’s individual luge event rankings was a joy to behold, capped only by seeing the 27-year-old claim the bronze medal on Feb. 12.
The 27-year-old from Rīga finished fifth in the first run Feb. 11 with a time of 51.913 seconds, or 0.195 behind the leader, Italy’s Armin Zoeggler. Rubenis’ second run was clocked at 51.497 seconds, giving him a combined time of 1 minute, 43.410 seconds—good enough to move him into fourth place overall, according to the official Web site of the games, www.torino2006.org.
The luge competition is based on the combined time of four runs. The Olympic event took place at Cesana Pariol, Italy.
During the third run Feb. 12, Rubenis slowed down a bit, finishing in 51.561 seconds, but his overall time of 2:34.971 moved him up a notch to third place, bumping Tony Benshoof of the United States into fourth place. Zoeggler kept hold of first place. Russia’s Albert Demtschenko, who set a track record in the third run with a time of 51.396, moved into second.
Those contending for medals were scheduled at the end of the fourth run, adding to the suspense over who would win.
Rubenis finished in 51.438 for a combined time of 3:26.445, leaving him third place and earning the bronze medal.
The silver went to Demtschenko, who had a combined time of 3:26.198. The gold went to Zoeggler, who won with a combined time of 3:26.088.
Benshoof, viewed by several observers as America’s best hope to finally win a medal in the event, clocked in at 51.559, for a combined time of 3:26.598, landing him in fourth place overall.
This was the third time Rubenis competed in the Winter Olympics. During the 1998 games in Nagano, Rubenis finished 14th overall. Then, in the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, Rubenis was injured during his second run and did not continue in the contest.
Also in the men’s individual luge event in Torino, Latvia’s Kaspars Dumpis finished 17th overall with a combined time of 3:29.288 and Guntis Rēķis was 21st with 3:30.156.
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