After winning mixed team gold at the 2021 FIL World Luge Championships, Austrian luger Madeleine Egle speaks to olympic.org about her journey from the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lillehammer 2016 to the Olympic podium in PyeongChang and beyond, as she turns her attention to more Olympic success in Beijing next year.
You had some excellent results in the 2020/21 Luge World Cup, including two individual podiums and a mixed relay victory. You then capped off the season with victory in the mixed relay at the FIL World Luge Championships in January. How do you reflect on your season?
“It was incredible. This season was a huge step forward for me and I really developed. I was super happy to win the gold medal with the team and make my first podium in the World Cup. I think it's the best season of my career so far, so I hope I can go up from here step-by-step.”
Why do you think you were able to make such great progress this season?
“I have to admit, I was a little bit worried before the season, because I hurt my shoulder and I didn’t even know if it would be right for the World Cup. I couldn’t start or make a push. So I was pretty relaxed and in pre-season I could focus on my sliding skills and I think that I really improved in that. And then I was lucky with my shoulder – we worked with so many physical therapists, training and trying everything to rebuild my shoulder; and we did it and it worked for the first World Cup, so that was great. I’m so pleased because I did go into the season with no expectation because of that.”
What are you planning to work on between now and the start of next season?
“I know that my shoulder is still not perfect, so that's what I'm trying to work on now. I want to be able to start the new season with full power and without being hurt. And I also want to work a little bit on nutrition; get the perfect nutrition to gain some muscles and some weight to be faster on the track. And, of course, I want to be mentally strong leading into the Olympic Winter Games.”
With less than a year to go until Beijing 2022, how are you feeling about the Games?
“I'm excited. It's just one year and it’s crazy how fast time goes by. I'm really looking forward to it and it gives me that little extra push this summer to keep going and to know what my goal is – to qualify and then hopefully get to the Olympics. So, yes, I’m really looking forward to it.”
You won bronze in the mixed relay at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. How do you reflect on your experiences there?
“PyeongChang 2018 was amazing because we won a medal in the team [event], and it was like everything was so new and so big. There were so many good athletes I was looking at too, and we were living in the same Village, meeting people, and it was all incredible. I never expected to win a medal. I was there for my first Olympic Games and I knew it would be hard to win a medal. It was more just to gain experience. And knowing the Olympics are only every four years, who knows if you can ever take part again. So, it was huge, really huge, to compete there.”
Two years earlier, you competed in the Winter YOG Lillehammer 2016. Did that experience help prepare you for PyeongChang?
“Yes, it was very similar – a bit like a smaller version of the Olympics, perhaps a little bit more playful, connecting more with people. But it really helped me understand what it would be like – living and eating all together in the Village. It helped me imagine what it would be like, and when I went there [to PyeongChang] I knew how it was going to be.”
What was your experience like in Lillehammer?
“It was amazing. I got to know so many people from around the world. I think it's a huge experience to get to know so many athletes and different sports. In Lillehammer, it was a little bit more chilled than in PyeongChang; there were not so high expectations and not so much pressure. So, I could enjoy it, for real. It really was a good experience.”
Looking ahead to next season, what goals are you setting for yourself?
“I want to start where I ended. I want to be at the top and I really want to be in the top three in the world. And, of course, the Olympic Winter Games are my goal. If I go there, I also want to compete for the medals. If everything fits together and if I feel good, maybe it's possible. And if not, then I can say I gave everything, and everything was just not enough. Well, it is how it is. They are my main goals.”
What do the Olympic Games mean to you?
“When I was a little child, I didn't know about the World Cup or World Championships, but I knew about the Olympics. I started sport because I wanted to get to the Olympics once in my life. So that's something I was dreaming about when I was a little child. The Olympics are just something special, something everyone knows. It's only every four years, so it makes it even more special. And you're together with all these people, from all over the world. So, the Olympics just unite people in sport.”