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Georg Hackl was competing at his fifth Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He had won a medal at each of the previous four, and his tally now stood at three golds and one silver. His reputation within the sport was sky-high. His debut had come as a 21-year-old representing West Germany. Now 35, and competing for a united Germany, he was regarded by many as the greatest luger of all time.
Going into Salt Lake City, no Olympic athlete, in either Summer or Winter Games, had ever won a medal in the same individual event at five Games in a row. So Hackl knew that he had the opportunity to make a piece of history.
There were several men with the potential to prevent him. Since the 1998 Nagano Olympics, Hackl had faced regular competition from Italy's Armin Zöggeler and Austria's Markus Prock. Of the three, Zöggeler was the youngest by some distance at age 28, while Prock was 37, two years older than Hackl. The Italian seemed to hold the advantage, and was fastest over the first run.
Hackl, though, was still a formidable competitor. Having finished second in that first run, he beat Zöggeler over the second run to finish the day just 0.04 seconds behind, with Prock in third.Hackl's third run cost him a chance of victory, as he could finish only sixth quickest. Barring surprises, the gold was now Zöggeler's, but the question was whether Hackl could retain his narrow lead over Prock in the battle for silver. Over that decisive final run, the Italian clinched gold with the fastest time, while Prock beat Hackl – but only by 0.01 seconds – to secure second place, and an unprecedented fifth consecutive medal.
The German returned to the Olympic arena once more in 2006, finishing seventh in the luge in Turin. He then retired from competing and went on to become a successful coach.