Already making history by appearing in his seventh Olympics as a winter athlete (a mark he’s sharing in Sochi with Japanese ski jumper Noriaki Kasai), 42-year-old Russian luger Albert Demtschenko is looking for more. He’s off to a good start.
On Wednesday, Demtschenko – a silver medalist at Torino in 2006 – turned in the fastest training time of the day among the luge contingent at the Sanki Sliding Center. He is considered to be a potential medal threat going into the start of the men’s event on Saturday.
A medal would help Demtschenko become the oldest Winter Olympic medalist in an individual event and the oldest Olympic luge medalist.
Currently, Great Britain skeleton racer John Crammond holds the title of oldest Winter Olympics medalist in an individual event after claiming bronze at St. Moritz in 1948. He was 41 years, 214 days old.
In regards to luge only, Fritz Nachmann earned a doubles’ bronze for West Germany at Grenoble in 1968; he was 38 years, 186 days old.
Finally, should Demtschenko go all the way and claim the gold in Sochi, he’d be the oldest Winter Olympic champion in an individual event. Canada’s Duff Gibson is that record’s current holder after he won the skeleton title in Torino at 39 years, 190 days old.
Demtschenko is coming off a narrow fourth-place finish in the singles at Vancouver in 2010; he missed the bronze by a mere three one-hundredths of a second. He is a former World Cup champion (2004-05) and finished second last year behind Germany’s Andi Langehan on the Sanki track in a World Cup test event.
But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.
She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.
No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seleswon the 1996 Australian Open.
But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.
Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).
No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.