The Associated Press - Tuesday Feb. 11, 2014 21:22 ET

Canada's Justin Snith, Tristan Walker take their shot at doubles luge podium

Linger brothers not expected to win 3rd straight gold medal

Justin Snith and Tristan Walker take a training run in Sochi.

Justin Snith and Tristan Walker won a World Cup luge bronze in January. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images)

Andreas and Wolfgang Linger left the past two Olympics with gold medals. They may have to settle for a different colour this time.

Aiming to become the first pair to win the doubles luge title in three straight Olympics, Austria's Linger brothers will have to outrace powerful teams from Germany and Italy as well as a pair of Russian sleds very familiar with the curves and corners of the Sanki Sliding Center track.

The Lingers won their first gold at Turin in 2006 and then defended their crown four years ago in Vancouver, joining Germany's Hans Rinn and Norbert Hahn (1976 and 1980) as the only doubles team to repeat as champions. Andreas, at 32, is one year older than Wolfgang.

The brothers were sixth on the World Cup circuit this season and to win their third gold medal, they'll have to find enough speed to overtake Germany's Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, who dominated this season. Wendl and Ardt, who have been sliding together for 13 years, won six of the eight races they competed in and finished second in the other two.

They were fastest during training runs this week, and it's likely they'll hand another luge gold to Germany's haul of medals at these games after Felix Loch won the men's race and Natalie Geisenberger demolished the women's field.

It's been 12 years since a German team won the doubles title, an eternity for the sliding superpower. Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch won Germany's last gold in 2002. Before that, the Germans won eight of the 10 Olympic doubles races.

Austria's Peter Penz and Georg Fischler are expected to be in the medal mix along with Italy's Christian Oberstolz and Patrick Gruber, and Russia's Alexander Denisyev and Vladislav Antonov.

Justin Snith of Calgary and Tristan Walker of Cochrane, Alta., will be the first competitors in the first run. The Canadians were seventh on the World Cup circuit this season, reaching the podium for bronze in early January at the Koenigssee, Germany stop.

Snith and Walker were fourth at last year's world championships.

The duo is competing in their second Olympics despite each of them being just 22 years old. They came in 15th at the Vancouver Games as teenagers.

Rising temperatures in recent days have given lugers and their coaches more to think about when considering which steel runners to us in competition. The ice, though, seems to be holding up well despite the fluctuating weather conditions.

Unlike the singles competition, doubles has just two runs instead of four. With only two chances, any mistake could mean the difference between a medal and finishing in the middle of the pack.

-- With files from

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