Coach in Austria: Hackl before the European Luge Championships: anticipation of the Germany scare

Georg Hackl will leave his regular spot in the Hotel Isserwirt to the German tobogganers.

Coach in Austria: Hackl before the European Luge Championships: anticipation of the Germany scare

Georg Hackl will leave his regular spot in the Hotel Isserwirt to the German tobogganers. But at this week's European Championships in Innsbruck-Igls, the 57-year-old's hospitality will stop.

"Now Igls is basically the home track for me too. We have prepared well. The athletes know the track well and try to use the home advantage. We succeeded impressively at my debut last year. This time too, anything is possible," says the three-time Olympic champion.

After Hackl moved to Austria as a trainer for driving and sledding technology on May 1, 2022, there was a clap immediately when the successful German tobogganers met again at the start of the last season. The sting still runs deep. It would be great, says three-time Olympic champion Felix Loch, looking at the weekend, "if we could really - I don't want to say - drive the Austrians ahead."

In addition to the double-seaters, the German hopes on Saturday and Sunday rest primarily on World Cup dominator Max Langenhan from Thuringia and Julia Taubitz, who is also leading the overall World Cup after four of twelve races. “I love being in Igls. I love the surroundings, I love the train, I love the hotel,” says the Saxon.

Germany's winter sports athletes have been staying at the hostel in Lans for decades; four-time Olympic bobsleigh champion André Lange, for example, always wanted to go to room 110. And when Germany's tobogganers leave after the European Championships and the World Cup, the Hackl Schorsch on Dorfstrasse is a regular guest again.

German medal guarantor

The move of the toboggan icon from Berchtesgaden to the neighboring country caused a stir, but things have now calmed down. "The Austrians have been strong over the last few years. They were way, way ahead even without Georg Hackl," says national coach Norbert Loch and says: "He's not missing at all. Because our technicians are doing a great job. Everyone can be replaced."

But Georg Hackl continues to have enormous charisma. Germany's Athlete of the Year in 1998 is still talked about in public about his successes - he embodies the sport of tobogganing like no other. He has won three Olympic gold medals (1992, 1994, 1998) and two silver medals (1988 and 2002) as well as ten world championship titles. "Tobogganing has given me a great life. I was able to do a wonderful job with great passion and still be successful," he says. “To reach such a situation is a great blessing in life.”

The move to the neighbors probably came at the right time for Hackl. "The culprit was my former strongest competitor Markus Prock. He repeatedly asked whether I would be willing to work for Austria. But a change was out of the question at the time because I was in the Bundeswehr. After my retirement two years ago, Markus Prock said, now you're no longer in the Bundeswehr. Now we have to talk. And we talked."

Future still open

As a result, Hackl signed what he said was an attractive contract in Austria until 2026 - "with, for example, a lot of free time in the summer and other advantages. All in all, that was very tempting for me," he says. "I thought to myself: You've been with the same company your whole life, you could do something different." Prock's daughter Hannah (23), third in the single-seater at the last World Cup in Winterberg, thinks it's good: "We're happy that he's here."

What kind of Hackl comes next remains to be seen. "I've been tobogganing around the world every winter for 40 years, traveling from one hotel to another, hardly having any free time in the winter. My private life suffers a lot in the winter months. That's why," he says, "I'll definitely slow down after the Olympics. But I can certainly imagine taking on tasks in a different form." According to Hackl, the Austrians have already “signaled an interest in going beyond this.”