It’s still kind of surreal: Georg Hackl cheers at the finish when an Austrian wins. The departure of the toboggan legend has plunged Germany into a crisis – but for how long?
Abandoned by luck and by his mentor Georg Hackl, Felix Loch squatted in the ice gully of Innsbruck on Sunday (December 4th, 2022) – it was a picture with great symbolic power at the start of the World Cup for lugers in Austria.
All victories to Austria
The home game was the greatest possible triumph for the hosts, with all victories going to Hackl’s new sporting home.
Germany, on the other hand, was beaten, most notably among the men: Loch fell heavily and ended up finishing 15th. Was that all the Hackl effect? The “defector” himself did not want to overstate the result. “It was just a home World Cup to start with, which went well and happily”said Hackl in the ARD: “But that’s also very surprising for me. I knew that we had top people in every discipline, but I didn’t expect it to work out in this competitive environment.”
Because whether in men, women or in both doubles categories – the victory always went to Austria. It became particularly clear on Sunday.
Quadruple triumph for Team Austria in singles
Loch was already hopelessly behind after the first run in sixth place, in the end Nico Gleirscher won ahead of his compatriots Wolfgang Kindl, Jonas Müller and David Gleirscher. Best German: World Cup debutant Timon Grancagnolo in seventh.
Grancagnolo then admitted in the Sportschau interview: “We’re amazed at what the Austrians did during the summer break. But I would simply say that we want to win the next races and show that we’re still the best.” But that will be difficult, especially quickly.
Prock’s declaration of war is clear
National coach Norbert Loch fears one after this start “little crack” with his son Felix. Hackl was a mentor as a coach, especially for the former dominator, and then surprisingly changed sides last May. Now he should help Austria “To overtake Germany as a toboggan superpower and become number one”says Markus Prock, President of the Austrian association.
The start was promising for some – and scary for others. However, it must be restricted. Innsbruck was a home game, the Austrians traditionally look good here, even if they are rarely that strong. In addition, the material is being developed over the long term, Hackl’s influence is likely to be quite superficial at the start of winter.
“Were not competitive”
In any case, it is a clear warning signal for the Germans “We weren’t competitive with the men”, said Norbert Loch. At the upcoming overseas World Cups in Whistler, Canada, and on the US track in Park City, neither team has a fundamental advantage, there should be a clearer performance profile here. The Germans won’t be on their home tracks until late this winter: the World Championships will take place in Oberhof at the end of January, followed by a World Cup in Altenberg and two of them in Winterberg.
Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken are disappointed with their result
Julia Taubitz, who finished third twice in Innsbruck, is definitely fighting: “We are very happy to accept the challenge from Austria. We will show that we can soon win races again and are still the best.”
Wendl relies on home advantage
Tobias Wendl, who had to witness a triple victory for the Austrians in the doubles, which he is used to winning, and was passed in fifth place behind his compatriots Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken, sees it similarly. He also justified the Innsbruck disaster with the away game and promises: “We’ll be back. The World Cup is at home in Oberhof, and we know how to drive there.”