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Russia wins two silvers as FIL European Natural Track Championships kicks off in Moscow

The medalists are Yekaterina Lavrentyeva, 38, and Alexander Yegorov, 34

MOSCOW, February 21. /TASS/. Russian lugers won two silver medals on Friday at the 2020 FIL (International Luge Federation) European Natural Track Championships, which kicked off on Friday in the Russian capital of Moscow.

Russian luger Yekaterina Lavrentyeva won her silver medal in women’s singles finishing just 0.03 seconds behind Italy’s Evelin Lanthaler, who packed the gold with the result of 11.38 seconds. Austria’s Tina Unterberger took the bronze sprinting the course in 11.42 seconds.

Lavrentyeva, 38, is four-time gold, four-time silver and two-time bronze medalist in women’s singles of the FIL World Luge Natural Track Championships. The Russian luger is also six-time winner of the European Championship in addition to her 11 champion’s titles of the FIL World Cups on Natural Track.

Speaking to a TASS journalist after the race, Lavrentyeva said she was satisfied with her result, while today’s racing distance, which was reduced by the organizers due to the warm weather in Moscow, was the shortest ever in her career.

"I am very happy with my result as we made a long way trying different materials and sled runners," she said. Moreover, I am not in my optimal physical shape anymore as I have been competing for a long time already."

"The track was very short due to the weather conditions, therefore the launching dart was very important and mine is not as powerful as that of the rest of competitors," Lavrentyeva said. "This is why I believe that I managed the track very well."

"The weather interferes often during the tournaments of luge on the natural track because our competitions are running on the natural surface," she added.

The winner of the race, Evelin Lanthaler, said she wished the track could have been longer today.

"Given the spring-like temperatures, the ice on the track wasn't bad at all," the official website of FIL quoted the Italian luger as saying. "Of course I would have liked to compete from the top of the track, but this simply was not possible."

"Today, a fine, soulful driving style was the key to success," Lanthaler added.

Later on Friday, Russia’s Alexander Yegorov won silver in men’s singles as he crossed the finish line 0.02 seconds behind gold winner Michael Scheikl of Germany, who clocked the short distance in 11.11 seconds. Italy’s Alex Gruber packed the bronze with the result of 11.14 seconds.

Yegeorov, 34, is the silver winner of the World Championships in men’s doubles and four-time bronze medalist of the European Championships in men’s doubles.

"I'm happy about my first medal. Winning a medal in front of the many fans at home is very special. My next goal is gold," FIL’s official web page cited Yegorov saying. The Russian luger is set to race on Saturday again, but in pair with his teammate Pyotr Popov in men’s doubles event.

The German gold medal winner of today’s race said he was sorry that the weather interfered with tournament in the Russian capital as he would have also liked to race a longer track.

"I am happy to take this medal," European Champion Michael Scheikl said. "I am sorry about the really cool event in Moscow, but as an athlete you also have to win a short race."

"The conditions were fair and if you trained well in summer you could start quickly and have a good time," the German luger added.

The 2020 FIL Luge European Natural Track Championships in Moscow had been initially slated to be held on February 22-23, but was rescheduled to earlier dates due to the record-breaking warmth in the Russian capital this year.

The weather also forced the organizers to make only one-run competitions and to reduce the length of the course to 400 meters, which is the minimum distance of the track allowed by the International Luge Federation’s regulations. The length of the course usually stands at between 700 and 1,200 meters.

FIL technical delegate Herbert Schwarz praised the efforts of the Russian organizers of the European Championship as they averted a possible cancellation of the tournament.

"A big compliment to the organizers in Moscow, who made a race possible and worked all night long," Schwarz was quoted as saying on FIL’s web page. "We didn’t want to leave without a competition."

The European Championship in Moscow will close on Saturday with the men’s doubles and team events. The defending European champions in these disciplines are Italy’s Patrick Pigneter and Florian Clara and Team Austria respectively.