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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 February 2006, 18:23 GMT
Otto leads luge sweep for Germany
Sylke Otto
36-year-old Sylke Otto added a second Olympic women's luge gold to her collection
Germany swept the women's individual luge for the sixth time in Olympic history at Cesana Pariol.

Sylke Otto successfully defended her 2002 title with a combined time of three minutes 7.979 seconds, just ahead of 1998 champion Silke Kraushaar.

Tatjana Huefner, 22, took bronze - narrowly preventing Courtney Zablocki from winning a first medal in the luge for the United States.

Austrian Veronika Halder's track-record speed could only secure fifth place.

Despite recording only the third-best time in the final run, Otto, 36, had done enough by posting the fastest mark in each of the first three runs.

In so doing, she became only the second woman to retain an Olympic luge title, after East German Steffi Walter-Martin in 1988.

The medal sweep further emphasised Germany's domination of women's luge, in which they have not lost a World Cup series race since November 1997.

The competition was, however, again overshadowed by crashes, the most serious of which saw Canada's Meaghan Simister taken to hospital in an ambulance.

Racing was suspended for 10 minutes after Simister flew into the roof of one of the bottom curves before slamming into a wall.

She was taken away on a stretcher to a small hospital at the nearby Olympic village, but appeared alert and conscious.


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