Luge athletes are set to kick off the Olympic year with a classic event in Königssee. The track in Königssee, Germany, was converted from a natural track into an artificial one in July 1968 at a cost of 4.8 million deutschmarks at the time (2.4 million Euro, approximately $2 million). It will now host the sixth stop on the Viessmann World Cup tour following the events in Innsbruck-Igls (AUT), Winterberg, Altenberg (both GER), Calgary (CAN) and Lake Placid (USA). The Königssee weekend will also host the fourth race in the Viessmann Team Relay World Cup presented by BMW. Georg Hackl (GER), the only athlete to have ever won three Olympic golds in the men’s singles event, once called the track the “Streif” for luge athletes, comparing it to the legendary downhill ski race for Alpine skiers in Kitzbühel (Austria). Even after several updates, the Königssee track is still regarded as one of the most challenging ice tracks in the world.
The International Luge Federation (FIL) is due to complete its qualification process just short of a month before the opening ceremony to the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang (KOR) on February 9, 2018. All luge athletes who will compete in the Olympics are set to be named by January 24, 2018 at the latest. Ahead of his home race in Königssee, two-time Olympic Champion Felix Loch of Germany leads the overall standings in the Viessmann World Cup with 537 points.
He is followed by Austria’s World Champion Wolfgang Kindl (429) and the current European Champion Semen Pavlichenko (411). In the women’s event, 2014 Olympic Champion Natalie Geisenberger (GER) has 610 points, giving her a strong lead ahead of record-breaking World Champion Tatjana Hüfner (GER) with 515 points. Canada’s Alex Gough (453) is in third place. Due to an injury, record winning World Champion Tatjana Hüfner is forced to cancel the Viessmann World Cup in the artificial ice track of Königssee. She will be replaced by Jessica Tiebel, the 2017 Junior’s World Champion.
Toni Eggert/Sascha Benecken of Germany (685) hold the top spot in the overall World Cup standings for the doubles event. Their teammates Tobias Wendl/Tobias Arlt (467) follow in second place ahead of Austria’s Peter Penz/Georg Fischler (416).
Hannah Prock wins Austria’s National Championships:
Innsbruck: Hannah Prock, runner-up in the 2017 Junior European Championships, secured a surprise victory in the Austrian championships. The daughter of luging legend Markus Prock took the top spot ahead of Mariam Kastlunger in second and Madelaine Egle in third. In the men’s championships, which were held on the Olympic ice track in Innsbruck-Igls, the World Champion Wolfgang Kindl finished first ahead of Nico Gleirscher and Reinhard Egger. Peter Penz/Georg Fischler secured the title in the doubles event.
Romania also held its national championships in Innsbruck-Igls. Raluca Stramaturaru, currently 13th in the overall standings for the Viessmann World Cup, and Valentin Cretu won the title of Romanian champions.
Canada names its team for the Olympics
Calgary: Canada Luge Association (CLA), who had to make do with three fourth-place finishes at the Winter Games in Sochi (RUS), announced the athletes who will make up their eight-strong team from their office in Calgary. The first spot on the team goes to Alex Gough, who has already secured two World Championship
bronze medals and finished fourth at the Sochi Olympics. The 30-year-old athlete is joined by Kimberley McRae, third at the 2017 World Championships, and Brooke Apshkrum, gold medallist at the 2016 Youth Olympics. Sam Edney, Mitchel Malyk and Reid Watts will be flying the flag for Canada in the men’s event. Tristan Walker/Justin Snith, who finished fourth in the last Olympics, have been named for the doubles event. In 2014, they joined up with Alex Gough and Sam Edney to form the Canadian team relay squad and finished fourth.
Local hero Loch lost crown to Semen Pavlichenko
Königssee: Last year saw Felix Loch lose his title as European Champion on his very own home track. Russia’s Semen Pavlichenko secured a surprise victory in the European Championships on the artificial track in Königssee. Natalie Geisenberger (GER) won the women’s title last year. Olympic Champions Tobias Wendl/Tobias Arlt (GER) took the top spot for the doubles. Gold in the team relay went to the squad from Germany.
Successful test of the preliminary model for Women’s double
Sigulda: The project “Women’s double” of the International Luge Federation is making progress. A preliminary model of the newly developed sledge was successfully tested on the artificial track of Sigulda, Latvia, shortly before Christmas, as the Technical Director of the FIL, Christian Eigentler from Austria, informed now.
The training camp was joined by junior athletes from Russia, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Latvia. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has affiliated the discipline of Women’s doubles for the Youth Olympic Games 2020 in Lausanne (SUI). The FIL is now working to create the requirements for the new discipline.
World Champion Tatjana Hüfner forced to cancel Königssee
Oberhof: Due to an injury, record winning World Champion Tatjana Hüfner is forced to cancel the Viessmann World Cup in the artificial ice track of Königssee, Germany, next weekend. The 2010 Olympic Champion suffers of an inflammation of nerves at the right leg, as the local luge federation of Thuringia announced. Tatjana Hüfner confirmed the cancellation. “I’m well aided”, she wrote on Facebook.
So far Tatjana Hüfner has won the Viessmann Luge World Cup at Calgary, Canada. In the overall raking she is on second place. At the Winter Games in PyeongChang next February she planned to compete at the Olympics for the fourth time.