Pyeongchang 2018: Meet Shiva Keshavan's biggest rivals as the Indian prepares to compete in his sixth Winter Olympics

On Saturday, India’s Shiva Keshavan will participate in the first two runs of the men’s singles event of luge at his sixth and final Winter Olympics.

India’s most prolific Winter Olympian, Keshavan will be up against monumental odds when he begins his challenge on Saturday.

Here’s a look at the most prominent contenders in Keshavan’s path:

Felix Loch (Germany)

Germany's Felix Loch celebrates his gold medal at Sochi Olympics. AFP

Germany's Felix Loch celebrates his gold medal at Sochi Olympics. AFP

Felix Loch made waves on the luge circuit as an 18-year-old when he became the world champion in the sport. Two year later, Loch became the youngest Olympic luge champion in history when he won the men’s singles gold at the Vancouver Olympics. There has been no turning back for the German, who went on to clinch the gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Games too, thereby establishing his credentials as the man to beat in the men’s singles event. For good measure, he also won the mixed team gold at Sochi.

At Pyeongchang, he will be the hot favourite to claim his third medal, which will bring him at par with the record of his compatriot Georg Hackl, who won the men’s gold in 1992, 1994 and 1998.

Wolfgang Kindl (Austria)

Wolfgang Kindl, who began his luge career as an 11-year-old, comes to the 2018 Winter Olympics after clinching the FIL World Luge Championships gold last year — a title Loch had won in 2016.

Ever since the Sochi Games, Kindl has been in top form, winning the bronze medal at the World Championships in 2015 and 2016. Kindl is currently placed second in the 2017-18 World Cup standings behind Loch.

Semen Pavlichenko (Russia)

Semen Pavlichenko will bear Russian hopes at the Pyeongchang Olympics alongside Roman Repilov.

In 2015, he became the first male luger representing the Russian Federation to win gold in the men’s singles event at the world championships, held in in Sigulda, Latvia. Pavlichenko’s compatriot Sergei Danilin had won the event back in 1981, when Russia was Soviet Union. Kindl is currently placed fourth in the 2017-18 World Cup standings.

Tucker West (USA)

Tucker West found out about luge in 2002 when he first saw it on TV during the Salt Lake Olympics. What started as a childhood hobby soon blossomed into an obsession for the American. In 2014, West became the first man from USA to emerge victorious at a World Cup race since 1997. He won two more World Cup races in the 2016-2017 season. At Sochi four years ago, he became the youngest American Olympic luger ever at the age of 18. At Pyeongchang, he will be hoping to convert his potential into a medal.

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Updated Date: Feb 10, 2018 15:14:30 IST