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|Artificial Track News vom 03.02.09|
|Double-seater – Oberstolz-Gruber intend to go for the icing on the cake|
“Overall World Cup victory only a nice by-product”
Lake Placid (pps) Four victories in seven events, an impressive lead in the overall ranking with almost 100 points ahead of their competitors as well as the commendation of four podium finishes at five appearances at the “Olympic Sports Complex” at the foot of the Mount van Houvenberg – all this make Italy’s Christian Oberstolz-Patrick Gruber the top favourites in the doubles’ event at the 41st FIL Luge World Championships in Lake Placid in the US state of New York on February 6-8. Oberstolz-Gruber, who celebrated two victories in Lake Placid (2001-2002 and 2003-2004) and posted two second places (2004-2005 and 2005-2006) intend to go for the icing on the cake.
„The overall World Cup victory is just a nice by-product“, explained Patrick Gruber with regard to their comfortable lead of 96 points compared to their long-time rivals Patric Leitner-Alexander Resch of Germany, 2002 Olympic and four-time World champions. The two lugers from South Tyrol – they only failed a podium finish last winter posting a sixth rank – definitely aim for the World Championship title.
However, after a rather mediocre start into the season, Germany’s Leitner-Resch are on an upswing again. “We’re well prepared for the Worlds”, concluded Patric Leitner after two second places in Oberhof and Altenberg. The turning point came on their home track in Koenigssee –for the past seven years they remained undefeated there.
Apart from Leitner-Resch, the German federation has entered the World silver medallists Tobias Wendl-Tobias Arlt as well as the recovered defending champions André Florschuetz-Torsten Wustlich. Six weeks after Florschuetz underwent spinal disc surgery, the three-time World champions and Olympic silver medallists celebrated an impressive comeback in Oberhof achieving a third place and thereby setting a new track record. “Even though we still have some deficits at the start we want to win a medal,” said Torsten Wustlich. Lake Placid will be the last World Championship event for both Florschuetz-Wustlich and Leitner-Resch. Both teams intend to end their active career after the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada.
Among the medal candidates are also Austria’s Olympic champions Andreas Linger-Wolfgang Linger, their compatriots Tobias Schiegl-Markus Schiegl, 2008 World bronze medallists, as well as the rather unpredictable Peter Penz-Georg Fischler. These two often fail to show a good performance in both runs.
In Altenberg, Gerhard Plankensteiner-Oswald Haselrieder of Italy crashed badly but fortunately suffered no injuries. They have always shown a good performance on the track in Lake Placid, posted three third places (2004-2005, 2005-2006 and 2007-2008). It remains to be seen if they really recovered from their serious crash.
Right behind Oberstolz-Gruber and Plankensteiner-Haselrieder the Sics brothers Andris and Juris from Latvia achieved a third place in Cesana. It was the reward for their extensive work and changes on their sled during the Christmas holidays. Just like Sics-Sics, the US doubles’ teams are rather a “dark horse” with regard to the World Championships. Christian Niccum-Daniel Joye posted a fifth place in Winterberg and Mark Grimmette-Brian Martin a sixth place in Sigulda. It remains to be seen if competing in front of a home crowd will have a positive effect…