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Taubitz wins World Cup luge race, closes in on points lead

Julia Taubitz of Germany pulled off a big rally in the second heat to win a World Cup women’s luge race Saturday, making the contest with Tatyana Ivanova of Russia for the overall season-long championship even tighter.

Taubitz finished in first, Ivanova was second and Eliza Cauce of Latvia was third on her home track for her best finish of the season by far. Ivanova’s lead over Taubitz was trimmed to 17 points in the overall standings, and they are the only two serious contenders remaining in the race for the points title.

Emily Sweeney was the top American finisher, placing 15th — meaning she’ll be the lone U.S. woman qualified for Sunday’s sprint race. Only the top 15 finishers from Saturday earned an invitation into the sprint.

Julia Taubitz of Germany reacts after she placed first of a women's race at the Luge World Cup event in in Sigulda, Latvia, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. (AP PhotoRoman Koksarov)

Summer Britcher of the U.S. had a golden opportunity to not only be in that field but win the race Saturday. She was the leader after the first heat but struggled in her second run and plummeted all the way to 18th place.

Brittney Arndt was 23rd and Ashley Farquharson was 26th for the U.S.

In the doubles race later Saturday, Latvians Andris Sics and Juris Sics got a win on home ice. They finished in 1:23.804. Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt of Germany were second in 1:23.834, and Germany also got bronze from Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken.

From left, Tatyana Ivanova of Russia, second place, Julia Taubitz of Germany, first place, and Eliza Cauce of Latvia, third place, celebrate on the podium after the women's race at the Luge World Cup event in in Sigulda, Latvia, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. (AP PhotoRoman Koksarov)

The U.S. team of Dana Kellogg and Duncan Segger made their World Cup series debut, placing 20th.

Julia Taubitz of Germany speeds down the track during a women's race at the Luge World Cup event in Sigulda, Latvia, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. Taubitz won the event. (AP PhotoRoman Koksarov)

Julia Taubitz of Germany reacts after she placed first of a women's race at the Luge World Cup event in in Sigulda, Latvia, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. (AP PhotoRoman Koksarov)

Tatyana Ivanova of Russia waves after she placed second of a women's race at the Luge World Cup event in in Sigulda, Latvia, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. (AP PhotoRoman Koksarov)

World Cup leader Tatyana Ivanova of Russia speeds down the track during a women's race at the Luge World Cup event in Sigulda, Latvia, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. (AP PhotoRoman Koksarov)

Andris Sics and Juris Sics of Latvia react as they finished first in the men's doubles race at the Luge World Cup event in Sigulda, Latvia, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. Sics and Sics won the event. (AP PhotoRoman Koksarov)

Andris Sics and Juris Sics of Latvia react after they finish first in the men's doubles race at the Luge World Cup event in Sigulda, Latvia, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. Sics and Sics won the event. (AP PhotoRoman Koksarov)

Emily Sweeney of United States speeds down the track during a women's race at the Luge World Cup event in Sigulda, Latvia, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. (AP PhotoRoman Koksarov)