The contest between Germany’s Georg Hackl and Austria’s Markus Prock for the luge gold medal in Albertville had been the closest competition for 24 years, with Hackl winning gold by a third of a second.
In Lillehammer, the two men were reunited on the Olympic track. A new challenger had also emerged in the shape of Italy’s Armin Zöggeler, but few doubted that Hackl and Prock remained the men to beat.
And so it was on the first run, with Hackl first and Prock second, and the gap between the pair was miniscule – just 0.004 secs. Zöggeler was another 0.141 secs further back, with the rest of the field already struggling to keep up. It was a theme that was to run through the whole competition.
The second run saw Hackl again top the timing sheet, and again the advantage was very slender – this time 0.006 secs quicker. Two runs done, and the two favourites were now separated by just 0.01 secs.
But the second day saw a significant change. The third run saw Prock go quicker, and by a margin of 0.058 secs, the most comprehensive victory of the event so far, and enough to put the Austrian into the overall lead for the first time. Yet it was obvious that any sort of error on the fourth run could prove decisive.This time it was actually Zöggeler who went quickest, sealing the bronze medal for himself. Hackl then set a time of 50.491 secs, throwing the gauntlet to Prock to earn his victory. His target – if he could cross the line in a maximum of 50.538 secs, he’d take gold. He couldn’t. Prock went only seventh fastest, crossing the line in 50.552 secs and losing his lead. Hackl, once more, had grabbed hold of his second gold medal. Four years later, he was to take a third. Hackl was to continue competing in the Olympics until the age of 39, when he took seventh place in Turin.