#tkgoesPyeongChang: The big day
#tkgoesPyeongChang | Finally the time has come: The big day of the luge race is there. Together with pit crew member Alex Meier, our Korea-expert Sora An as well as family and friends of the athletes Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken, I am cheering for the luge team live on the track in PyeongChang. How exciting the decisive competition was, you will learn in my second travel log.
Korean fortifying before the luge race
Before it’s all about the decisive luge race in the evening, we meet our local colleague Sora An with her family for a joint meal. Sora picks us up at the hotel and we drive to a small Korean restaurant nearby. Alone, we would probably never go in here, because on all signs and menus you will find only Korean characters.
Before everyone headed up to the track, the thyssenkrupp crew tested the culinary world of South Korea again – from Kimchi to Naengmyeon.
In a room in the back of the restaurant everything is already prepared for us. On hot grill plates, Korean beef is fried. Cut into small pieces with scissors, the meat is then wrapped in lettuce together with various side dishes such as kimchi, a spicy cabbage. The Koreans call this food Ssam.
Fried beef meets a choice of Korean vegetable variations, like Kimchi. Together, they call it “Ssam.”
As a side dish we have Naengmyeon, a traditional cold noodle dish that originates from North Korea, but is now eaten in whole Korea. It’s not so easy to eat the noodles with the thin chopsticks. We pack a cup of instant noodles and chopsticks in our travel backpack, so that the winner can try it out, too.
Strengthened then it goes to the ice track. After the thorough access control we walk together up to the finish grandstand. There we meet Toni and Sasha’s families and friends. To motivate the two athletes, we have prepared a few fan articles. In the first row we hang up our banner. Now it is time to wait. The waiting time is shortened by two Sohoorang mascots with their dance moves to K-Pop songs. German television also stops by to conduct a few interviews with Toni’s family. Slowly we all get a bit nervous.
The thyssenkrupp pit crew and friends on their way to the ice rink at PyeongChang. The spirits are high!
And now it starts
At 8:20 pm it finally starts. Toni and Sascha have the start number 4 and are right at the beginning of the competition. The first lugers are going to start. One track record is broken after another. The big internal competition Wendl/Arlt starts as third double and can set both the new start and the track record with a clean run. Now it’s our turn: Toni and Sascha are ready to start and get in the ice track. There is tense silence in our fan group. Everyone is staring at the big screen. The time remains red. With a gap of 0.111 seconds to the first place Toni and Sascha finish. Now it is time to give everything in the second heat.
The second heat
After the halftime break, the lugers start in reverse order. As third place finishers after the first heat, Toni and Sascha are now one of the last starters. We follow the athletes from the other nations. A special atmosphere is created when the two Koreans Park/Cho start. With a 10th place in the first heat, they have little chance of a medal, but the fans of all nations cheer for them. No matter from which country they are, whether Canada, Romania or Germany, the grandstand rages as the two Korean athletes arrive at the finish. Everyone celebrates their ninth place like a victory. A real goosebump moment.
Then Toni and Sascha go to the start. A clean run would give them a medal place. Next to Julia I share the thrill with them in the front row. Until turn 9, everything is going great, then comes the heartbeat moment. The sled starts slithering and drifts over the ice. Everyone holds their breath, but Toni can counter-steer and bring the sleed safely to the finish. We are all very happy about this third place. With tears in our eyes, we cheer together with the athletes who were satisfied with their performance: “We are so happy with this result,” Toni Eggert says. “The last days have shown us that this special competition have its own rules. You can even go back empty-handed.” Sascha Benecken confirms this analysis: “We wanted to make that race a highlight of our great season and I think we succeeded well”.
It took Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken more than three years to prepare for their final race in PyeongChang.
Although our big common goal was gold in South Korea, we are all incredibly proud of the performance of the two athletes. After all, precious metal is precious metal – what role does color play in it 😉 By the way, the medals are awarded two days after the race at the official medal ceremony.
Toni and Sascha, we think your performance has been outstanding!
What we experience until our departure and what we find to pack in our travel backpack, you read in the next travel log. Stay tuned!