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Hackl’s eye for detail pays off in the luge

Four years earlier, competing for West Germany, Georg Hackl had missed out on a gold medal in the luge by just under 0.4 seconds. Having analysed his performance in detail he came to the conclusion that it had been his start that had cost him, and duly set about improving his speed at the top of the run.

Following Calgary, Hackl never lost his focus. He spent nearly four years working on the perfect start, examining every movement of his body and working on each aspect of his fitness that would help him fly away from the buzzer. His focus and dedication had seen him win world titles and two world cups in the years since his Calgary setback. Moreover, he knew that the 1988 gold medallist, Jens Müller, had not been in the best of form. Instead, his greatest challenge was to come from two Austrians – Markus Prock and Markus Schmidt.

Hackl set an early marker with the fastest time in the first run. His preparations had clearly paid off as he was also the second quickest athlete at the start. He was only third fastest on the second run, but that was still enough to give him an overnight lead of more than 0.15 seconds – a tiny margin in most sports, but a very handy advantage in the luge.

As is so often the case in luge, it was the third run that proved decisive. Hackl was fastest, Muller second and Schmidt – who had been second overnight – could finish only seventh quickest. It now seemed that only a loss of focus could prevent Hackl from claiming gold going into the final descent. However, he remained in control and delivered an impressive run. Yet again he recorded the joint quickest start time and, once again, went fastest overall. The gold that had eluded him four years earlier was now his.

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Prock came second and Schmidt was third, but Albertville had witnessed the start of Hackl's era of dominance. He retained his title in 1994, and then again in 1998, before having to settle for silver in 2002, when he was 35.
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