Georg Hackl has moved to Austria - and the eternal German rival is dominating the first races of the Luge World Cup. Last year's winner Julia Taubitz was only third, while the men in the doubles even missed the podium. National coach Norbert Loch is disappointed.
Without Olympic champion Natalie Geisenberger, without mentor Georg Hackl, without a win: the German lugers, spoiled by golden triumphs, followed their rival Austria in the first three competitions at the World Cup opener in Innsbruck. In the women's world champion Julia Taubitz not only lost her track record from the previous year to the victorious Madeleine Egle in the first run, the overall World Cup winner had to settle for third place after two rounds.
The German doubles even missed the podium in the triple triumph of the Austrians. When Juri Gatt/Riccardo Schöpf won, the world champions Toni Eggert/Sascha Benecken only took fourth place ahead of the Olympic champions Tobias Wendl/Tobias Arlt. At the World Cup premiere of the women's doubles, Jessica Degenhardt/Cheyenne Rosenthal were second, 0.176 seconds behind Selina Egle/Lara Michaela Kipp.
Two-time Olympic champion Hackl changed sides last May. The face of German tobogganing gave up his position as a trainer and material developer in the German association BSD and, after a lucrative offer, switched to the coaching team in the neighboring country. The first results of the personnel change were clearly visible in Innsbruck.
Madeleine Egle in particular was celebrated by the Austrian fans. Her lead over Julia Taubitz, who was second after the first run, was an impressive 0.248 seconds. "In general, I'm happy with the medal. After the Olympics, there was a lot of pressure on me," said Taubitz, "now I'm looking forward to the next duels."
Germany's record Winter Olympian Geisenberger (six gold medals) was not there, she is expecting her second child. Junior Merle Fräbel is the new hope. The 19-year-old from Suhl finished sixth in her first World Cup race, right behind Olympic silver medalist Anna Berreiter.
"Merle did an excellent job," said national coach Norbert Loch about his youngster, but did not shy away from general criticism: "I'm a little disappointed with the consistency we had in training, especially at the start. It didn't come across that well today ."
The men drive on Sunday. Olympic champion Johannes Ludwig will be absent. The Oberhofer ended his career after the triumph in Beijing. The German hopes rest primarily on record world champion Felix Loch. However, the 33-year-old from Berchtesgaden did not win a World Cup last winter and finished fourth at the Olympics, missing the podium.