SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt gave Germany its third Olympic luge gold medal Wednesday with a win in the doubles competition.
The Germans deposed the two-time defending Olympic champions and gave their country a chance to sweep the sport's four events at the Sochi Games.
There are usually only three luge gold medals awarded at a Winter Olympics, but this year a team relay has been added and will be held Thursday.
A women's team member will slide down the course first, then touch a pad at the finish line that activates the starting gate for a man to start his run. A third sled with a men's doubles team will then come down the course and the combined time of the three sleds will determine the medals.
If Germany wins that race, and it will be favored to do so, it will have completed a four-event domination of Olympic luge.
Wendl and Arlt made two trips down the icy course Wednesday in the time of 1:38.933. They were fastest in both runs and defeated the silver-medal winning Austrian brother team of Andreas and Wolfgang Linger by .522 of a second.
The Lingers had won three world championship gold medals in addition to finishing first at each of the last two Olympics.
The day's biggest drama involved the battle for third place, which was eventually won by 2010 silver medalists Andris and Juris Sics of Latvia.
After the first run, the Sics brothers were in fifth place while Peter Penz and Georg Fischler of Austria were in third and Canadians Tristan Walker and Justin Snith were in fourth.
The Sics put in a solid second run and the team from Canada was not able to score a better combined time.
Penz and Fischler seemed likely to get the better of the Sics for third place, but their run almost turned into disaster. The Austria sled turned almost sideways early in the run and was out of control all the way to the finish line. Arms and legs could be seen extending outside the sled in an attempt to gain balance as it wobbled back and forth down the ice.
The sled never overturned and made it safely to the bottom, but the Austrian run was almost three seconds slower than anyone else and they finished last among the 19 competitors.