KOENIGSSEE, Germany - Germany grabbed seven of 12 medals Friday on the final day of World Cup competition in the Bavarian Alps, including gold in men's singles and silver in the team relay.
The United States entry of Erin Hamlin and Chris Mazdzer, in women's and men's singles, with Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman in doubles, finished fifth in the team relay.
The Germans won seven medals in all.
However, they did give Italy a present in the team relay as Germany had a commanding lead, thanks to the efforts of women's singles winner Tatjana Huefner and men's gold medalist Felix Loch. But they frittered it away when doubles champions Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt could not come within 0.5 of a second of Italians Christian Oberstolz and Patrick Gruber, who pulled out the victory.
Third place went to Russia, followed by Austria and the U.S.
Hamlin (Remsen), Mazdzer (Saranac Lake), Niccum and Terdiman totaled 2 minutes, 52.530 seconds. They finished about 1.2 seconds behind Italy, which was comprised of Sandra Gasparini and Dominik Fischnaller in addition to Oberstolz and Gruber.
Loch, the Vancouver Olympic champion, scored his third World Cup singles triumph of the season on the 1,250-meter men's track. It was a volatile day that saw wide disparities in performances from one heat to the next.
USA Luge was paced by Mazdzer, a 2010 Olympian who finished 21st, and Joe Mortensen, who finished 30th. Both made their season debuts on the World Cup circuit after training in Lake Placid through December.
Loch took the first run lead in 50.878 seconds through the course's 16 turns. He was nearly a tenth of a second ahead of teammate David Moeller, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist who also became known for biting into his medal for photographers and chipping a tooth.
Loch was only fourth best in the final run, clocking 50.773 seconds. But his total time of 1:41.651 seconds defeated two-time Olympic gold medalist Armin Zoeggeler. The Italian's second place time was 1:41.868, although ironically, his two runs were ranked third individually.
Another German, Johannes Ludwig, ninth at the midway point, rallied to finish third in 1:42.142.
In an unusual development, the race saw the top three sleds post faster second heat times when track conditions are usually slower due to all the traffic of the day and rising temperatures. A steady wet snowfall throughout the day may have contributed to the variation.
Moeller's second run was only the 11th fastest heat time, dropping him off the podium to fourth place.
On a similar theme, Jo Alexander Kopang, of Norway, now coached by retired U.S. luge racer Bengt Walden, stood fourth after one leg, but stumbled through the 360 degree Kriesel and to finished 12th in the second heat. Kopang wound up sixth.
In the worst-to-first category, Germany's Ralf Palik's individual efforts were ranked 28th and second, placing him ninth in the race, while teammate Andi Langenhan was 31st and first, winding up 19th.
Mazdzer posted 1:43.024, while Mortensen was timed in 1:43.961.
Loch's three wins and a silver medal give him 385 World Cup points. He leads Moeller who has 285, and Ludwig with 265.
Zoeggeler, with 10 World Cup overall titles, is fourth at 245 as he strives to win an unprecedented 11th crown.
Isaac Underwood, of Skandia, Mich., is 32nd with 31 points; Taylor Morris, of South Jordan, Utah is 33rd with 30 points; Trent Matheson, of Bountiful, Utah, is 36th with 23 points. None raced in Koenigssee.
Mazdzer is 37th with 20 points, and Mortensen has 11 points for 42nd place.
Germany is atop the team relay standings with 270, followed by Canada, sixth in Koenigssee, at 235, and Russia at 210. USA Luge is tied for fifth with Italy at 155 points.
The World Cup tour resumes Jan. 13-15 on another difficult track in the winter sports mecca of Oberhof, Germany, to be followed Jan. 20-22 by a stop in Winterberg, Germany.