Luger Hackl completes golden hat-trick
Germany’s Georg Hackl had won the men's luge at the past two Olympic Games, but his thirst for success remained undiminished. In Nagano there were several pretenders to his throne not least his compatriot, Jens Müller, Austria’s Markus Prock and the up-and-coming Armin Zöggeler of Italy had confirmed himself as another strong contender for the title.
Hackl had focused his season entirely on the Nagano Games, refining his sled and clothing to eke out every possible hundredth of a second of speed. His World Cup form in the run-up to the Winter Olympics had been indifferent, but that was probably because he was so intent on doing everything possible to win a third gold medal in a row.
In the first run Hackl took an early lead, bettering Zöggeler by a tenth of a second, with Prock third and Müller in fourth. Hackl and Zöggeler again topped the time-sheets in the second run, with Hackl extending his advantage. When the champion also recorded the best time of the third run, the gold seemed assured. Sure enough, he completed an amazing clean sweep by going fastest for the fourth time in four runs to seal his victory.
Zöggeler took silver, with Müller third. For Hackl, now aged 31, it was to be a final Olympic triumph. Four years later in Salt Lake City he would finish second behind Zöggeler, though he, would carry on until Turin 2006, where he finished seventh at the ripe old age of 39.