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Zoeggeler wins record 6th Olympic luge medal

photo - From left to right, silver medalist Albert Demchenko of Russia, gold medalist, Felix Loch of Germany, and bronze medalist Armin Zoeggeler of Italy celebrate before the flower ceremony after the men's singles luge final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.  (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) + caption
From left to right, silver medalist Albert Demchenko of Russia, gold medalist, Felix Loch of Germany, and bronze medalist Armin Zoeggeler of Italy celebrate before the flower ceremony after the men's singles luge final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Associated Press Updated: February 9, 2014 at 5:24 pm

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Whether Armin Zoeggeler is the best luger ever is debatable.

Except at the Olympics.

Under the five rings, no one did it better.

Zoeggeler is now the only person with six Olympic luge medals, after winning a bronze Sunday night at the Sochi Games to break a tie with German legend Georg Hackl atop the all-time standings. Zoeggeler's final time was 3 minutes, 28.797 seconds, placing him 1.271 seconds behind German gold medalist Felix Loch and 0.795 seconds slower than Russian silver medalist Albert Demchenko.

"I have really had a good time," Zoeggeler said.

Zoeggeler, 40, now has two golds, a silver and three bronzes in his Olympic career, which is all but certain to end in Sochi. But his medal total still may grow if, as expected, he represents Italy when the team relay makes its debut in the games program on Feb. 13 — exactly 20 years from the date where he made his Olympic debut in Lillehammer.

"He came, he saw, he conquered, he dominated, he did everything he could," said Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, N.Y., the top American in the Olympic field with a 13th-place finish. "What else is there?"

Not much.

Zoeggeler's medal count is almost unbelievable. He's got 103 medals in World Cup races, including 57 golds. He has 10 medals from world championships, including six golds. Tack on the six more medals from the Olympics, and that's 119 medals from major international competition, along with an amazing record in the overall World Cup competitions — 10 wins, four seconds and one third.

"A role model," Loch said earlier this season, "in every possible way."

Zoeggeler would not absolutely say that this season is his last — he waffled on the question more than once, saying "this maybe was my last race, yes" — but also said with a wry grin that he expects this to be his final Olympics.

If this was the end, he wasn't showing any signs of stress.

Before his final run, Zoeggeler peered inside a bobsled near the top of the track, checking out the steering mechanisms. And when he crossed the finish line, knowing a medal was his, he showed an unusual-for-him amount of emotion.

His final record: Six Olympics, six medals.

"He probably could keep doing this," Mazdzer said. "But there comes a time when you've done everything."

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