Repilov wins luge title, without Russian flag and anthem

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Felix Loch of Germany, Roman Repilov of Russia and David Gleirscher of Austria present their trophys during the victory ceremony after the men's race at the Luge World Championships in Koenigssee, Germany, Saturday Jan. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Andreas Schaad)

KONIGSSEE – Russia’s Roman Repilov won his second consecutive men’s luge world championship Saturday, overtaking World Cup champion Felix Loch in the second heat to successfully defend the title.

But after hoisting his gold medal, Repilov removed his hat in preparation for the winner’s flag to be displayed and anthem to blare. That was not the case.

Russian athletes can participate in the luge world championships, but only as neutral competitors and not officially representing their country because of the sanctions levied against that nation for a doping scandal.

The flag displayed in Repilov’s honor was the International Luge Federation’s, a blue outline of a luge athlete on a sled with a white background. The federation’s anthem was played as well. Russian athletes who medal at the Tokyo Olympics this summer or the Beijing Games in February 2022 will experience similar scenes; no Russian flag, no Russian anthem.

Repilov had the fastest heat in the second and final run and prevailed by 0.062 seconds over Loch. Austria’s David Gleirscher, the reigning Olympic champion, was third and finished 0.217 seconds back of Repilov’s winning time of 1:37.810.

Chris Mazdzer was the top U.S. finisher, placing 10th. Mazdzer, the reigning Olympic silver medalist, got his best world-championships finish since placing fourth in 2016. Tucker West was 14th for the U.S. in the men’s race, and Jonny Gustafson placed 31st.

In doubles, Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won their fourth consecutive world title — making them just the second sled to win that many in succession. Margit Schumann of East Germany won four consecutive women’s world luge titles from 1973 through 1977. World championships are not held in Olympic years.

Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt of Germany were second, and Latvia’s Andris Sics and Juris Sics were third. Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman were 16th for the U.S.

The world championships end Sunday with the women’s race and team relay. The international luge season ends next weekend with the World Cup finale in St. Moritz, Switzerland.