A luge stunner: Hackl leaves Germany for Austrian team

Three-time Olympic champion Georg Hackl has left the German luge program for a job with rival Austria, announcing Thursday he has agreed to a four-year contract that runs through the 2026 Olympics.

Hackl is one of Germany’s luge legends, a major part of the country’s dominance in the sliding sport for decades. Germany typically wins more World Cup medals each season than all other nations combined, plus claimed gold in all four events at the Beijing Olympics this year.

Hackl’s primary responsibility with Austria will be in technical development and sled material construction, a task he’ll share with Austrian Olympic doubles luge silver medalist Peter Penz.

“As a coach with Germany, I have won everything there is to win,” Hackl said. “I was looking for a new challenge.”

Austrian Luge president Markus Prock was one of Hackl’s chief on-ice rivals for years. But when Prock approached Hackl — a 10-time world champion — about making this move, Hackl was soon sold.

“The conversations with Markus were absolutely convincing,” Hackl said.

Austria won three medals at the Beijing Games, second-most of any nation behind Germany’s six. Madeleine Egle was second in the overall women’s World Cup standings this past season, and Wolfgang Kindl was second in the men’s standings.

With Hackl, Prock hopes Austria can now take the next step.

“We want to overtake the toboggan powerhouse Germany and become No. 1 on the ice track,” Prock said. “This requires a lot of heart and passion. … Now that the opportunity arose to steer him to Austria, we took the plunge. I’m very happy, but also proud, that he chose us.”

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