German luge machine at full throttle in Sochi

Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:38am EST
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By Justin Palmer

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - German luge great Georg Hackl believes his country's dominance in the sport comes from a scientific approach to athlete recruitment and sled design.

For their rivals, however, the reason is clear -- the Germans were born to slide.

At these Olympics, as at previous editions and throughout the winter World Cup season, the Germans have left the rest of the world trailing.

Hackl protege Felix Loch successfully defended his men's individual title with panache, while Natalie Geisenberger, also part of Hackl's coaching set-up, won her first women's singles Olympic gold on Tuesday in convincing fashion.

More gold, and possibly a clean sweep, is likely to follow with Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt favorites for the doubles title on Wednesday while Germany will be challenging for the top of the podium in the inaugural team relay on Thursday.

Hackl describes Loch as "the perfect example of the build of the perfect luge athlete."

Geisenberger and Wendl, he said, were blessed with "explosive strength".

"There is a very selective process of recruitment of athletes who have the ideal measurements and body weight," said Hackl, who won three Olympic gold and two silver medals in his luge career.   Continued...

Winner Germany's Natalie Geisenberger (R) and second-placed compatriot Tatjana Huefner celebrate with their bouquets at the flower ceremony for the women's luge singles competition during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 11, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch