- Title: ITALY: LUGE - German Luge veteran Georg Hackl to quit after Turin games
- Date: 10th February 2006
- Summary: SESTRIERE, ITALY (FEBRUARY 9, 2006) (REUTERS) THREE TIMES OLYMPIC LUGE CHAMPION GEORG HACKL AT NEWS CONFERENCE REPORTERS WITH OLYMPIC RINGS ON JACKET REPORTERS SITTING DOWN (SOUNDBITE) (German) THREE TIME GERMAN LUGE CHAMPION GEORG HACKL SAYING: (Q:Where are you in your career:) I am definitely looking at the last 6 runs of my luge career. After 30 years of luge I am very close to the end. Not all of you believe me (reporters laughing and Hackl laughs) HACKL'S ACCREDITATION GROUP OF REPORTERS WATCHING REFLECTION OF HACKL IN THE WINDOW (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN LUGE CHAMPION GEORG HACKL SAYING: (Q: What is wrong with the track) I could live with the curves but the real problem is the dirt which is brought onto the track by numerous people who do different jobs. After these two training sessions we had the curves are seriously damaged. Try to imagine: we put all our effort and knowledge, throughout the season, into these curbs and how to master them and obtain maximum speed and performance and then you find yourself on a scratched track. That's not something to be happy about" REPORTERS AND HACKL LEAVING THE ROOM
- Embargoed: 25th February 2006 12:00
- Location: Italy
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA7N29N4SD7FG9X7DAMPS5OONUK
- Story Text: Three-times Olympic luge champion Georg Hackl of Germany said on Thursday
(February 9) he will retire after the Turin Games.
The 39-year-old is competing in his sixth Games and
made his Olympic debut in 1988 in Calgary.
Many at the news conference in Sestriere did not
believe him when he suggested he would probably retire from
luge competitions after these games.
"I am definitely looking at the last 6 runs of my luge
career. After 30 years of luge I am very close to the end.
Not all of you believe me," Hackl said.
Hackl has bounced back from injuries, operations and
thoughts of retirement to win his ticket to Turin.
Luge's greatest all-time competitor, the resilient
German has won not only three gold medals but also two
silvers from his previous Olympic campaigns.
Asked about the state of the track at the newly built
Cesana Pariol facility, which was tested on Tuesday
(February 8), he said the curves were fine but complained
the track itself was damaged by people working around it.
The first time the Olympic luge track was tested a year
ago, four competitors ended up in hospital.
During the first training session ahead of this
weekend's men's singles event of the Turin Games, there was
another spectacular crash, by Czech Jakub Hyman.
The accident provided a reminder that luge, with racers
hurtling down at about 130 kph, is a dangerous sport,
although several leading medal contenders said they felt
there was nothing wrong with the track.
"I could live with the curves but the real problem is
the dirt which is brought onto the track by numerous people
who do different jobs. After these two training sessions we
had the curves are seriously damaged. Try to imagine: we
put all our effort and knowledge, throughout the season,
into these curbs and how to master them and obtain maximum
speed and performance and then you find yourself on a
scratched track. That's not something to be happy about," Hackl said.
He said the Cesana track was very technical, especially
at the start, as well as fast. It will also be used for
bobsleigh and skeleton events.
Competitors were not as impressed in February 2005,
when many crashes marred the preparations for a World Cup
event that was eventually canceled.
Brazilian Renato Mizuguchi needed surgery on a head injury
and two other competitors sustained fractures. A fourth was
also taken to hospital but was found to have only minor injuries.
After that, the International Luge Federation (FIL)
asked the organisers of the Turin Games to modify the
track. The upper part was made steeper and two corners on
the bottom part were modified.
The 1,435-metre-long track features 19 curves for a
vertical drop of 114 metres. Despite all the talk about the
lower part, the toughest challenge comes midway through
with the TORO section, a succession of three right-hand curves.
Since the modifications, the track successfully hosted
a World Cup event, in November last year.
Controversy soon returned, however, this time during a
bobsleigh practice session on Nov. 30. Raimund Bethge,
Germany's head bobsleigh coach, sustained fractures on both
legs when he was hit by an Australian bob while standing on the track.
As a result, FIL sent a letter to the 23 nations
participating in the Games to inform them about the
security conditions at the Cesana track and to make clear
that standing on the ice was prohibited at all times during
training and competition.
Most competitors had only warm praise to offer for the
track, where Olympic competition starts on Saturday with
the first day of the men's singles luge event.
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