Winter Olympics: Hackl has technology to light up the luge

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The Independent Online

Nothing has been spared in Georg Hackl's effort to make Olympic history. Engineers from the Porsche research unit have lent their ingenuity to his mission to become the first winter Olympian to win four consecutive gold medals in one event.

With three world championship titles and a silver medal from his Olympic debut in 1988, Hackl already is the most successful luge pilot of all time. His newly designed luge is a closely guarded secret. Hackl, who often tinkers with his equipment and is known to get up in the middle of the night to fix something on his luge, helped design the device, which was produced at the Porsche factory. Hackl personally carries the sled in a green wrap to and from competitions, keeping it away from prying eyes.

Hackl raised eyebrows in Nagano four years ago when he showed up with a self-designed sled and wearing aerodynamic yellow booties. Protests by the United States and Canadian teams against the booties were rejected. Hackl not only won the gold medal, he became the first luger to win all four heats at the Olympics.

Hackl has been his usual relaxed self at the course. He easily won one of the practice runs, then began the mind games against his rivals. "The ice in the decisive curve No. 2 has been configured differently," he said. "This has made the curve less sharp and I am sure the Americans did it on purpose."