Separate debuts but better together
Wolfgang and Andréas Linger started practising luge on the Igls Olympic track, used for the Innsbruck Games in 1964 and 1976. These two brothers, who are not twins, started out in the one-man events. It was only five years later that they teamed up. At the 2002 Games, the Linger brothers became part of the world luge elite, but did not do enough to win any titles. After two good races, they finished sixth at the Salt Lake City Games.
The Cesana track - cursed, then blessed
The following year was a revelation – firstly coming fourth in the World Cup, they went on to dominate all their opponents to win the 2003 World Championship title on the Sigulda track in Latvia. But everything looked as if it was coming to an end in 2005 at Cesana in Italy, on the future Olympic track, where they came off in the last bend but one.
Wolfgang had a higher price to pay, fracturing his ankle and fibula. But his passion for luge was too great. He rejoined the circuit the following year with his brother. The two brothers had another rendezvous with Cesana for the Turin Olympic Games in 2006. This time, they did not come off the track; they won the first race and finished second in the next one. It was a victory for the Austrian brothers – they were Olympic champions!
Rising to the major challenges
Between 2006 and 2010, the Linger brothers were still near the top, but did not win any major victories. Arriving in Vancouver, they knew that it was not going to be easy and that their opponents were very strong. The Latvians, Germans, Italians and Americans were bound to be formidable competitors.
On 17 February, the two heats of the doubles event were held. From the first intermediate times, the two Austrians were in the lead. They passed the finish line with an average time of 135 kmh. The Latvian Sic brothers came in eight-hundredths of a second behind then, followed by the German pair 23-hundredths of a second later. There was one heat left to race, and the pressure was on Wolfgang and Andréas. They made a perfect start and did not commit a single error on the whole run. Although slower than in the first heat, they were still in the lead in this second round. There was no doubt that they were the champions today, winning their second gold medal. They were the first lugers to retain their Olympic title in this event since the East Germans, Hans Rinn and Norbert Hahn, in 1976 and 1980.