Germany continued their dominance in luge at the 2014 Winter Olympics. They won gold in all four luge events: Felix Loch in men’s, Natalie Geisenberger in women’s, Tobias Wendle and Tobias Arlt in doubles and all four competed in the brand new team relay.
They ran 2:45.649, which was 1.030 ahead of Russia, to capture the country’s 31st luge gold medal. Legendary Georg Hackl coaches all of the luge athletes.
There are many who hope the team relay event will allow other countries to showcase their talents and even win a gold medal.
“Since I won worlds in 2009, other countries have been slowly inching their way up,” women’s Olympic bronze medalist Erin Hamlin of Remsen, N.Y. said. “I just hope it can keep happening.”
Why is Germany so good at the luge? The Atlantic explored this issue. Germany’s control on the sport goes back to when it was split in two. From 1964-2010, Germany won 70 Olympic medals while Austria has 18 and Italy has 16. Other countries won 13. Hackl won three golds and two silvers in the 1990s and explained why they own the sport.
The legendary German slider Georg Hackl, who won three gold and two silver Olympic medals in luge in the 1990s, attributes the dominance to Germany’s emphasis on youth recruitment. “There is a very selective process of recruitment of athletes who have the ideal measurements and body weight,” he said. “In the junior programs they focus on selecting athletes for their body structure.” But the focus on Vorsprung durch Technik–advancement through technology–also plays a role. German sliders perpetually refine their aerodynamics and their sleds to shave off vital tenths of a second.
There are quite a few who voice concerns over Germany, but others know the Germans are naturals.
“They’ve been doing this since they came out of the womb,” American slider Kate Hansen observed in Sochi.
Russian Albert Demchenko and Italian Armin Zoeggeler are retiring after the Olympics.