Austria's Lugers with ambitious goals for the Olympic season
Innsbruck (FIL) The Austrian Luge Federation has won six gold medals and eight silver and bronze medals each in the history of the Olympic Winter Games, which began for the sport of luge in Innsbruck in 1964.
Head coach and sports director René Friedl sets high goals for his team on the way to the XXIV Olympic Winter Games 2022 in Beijing, China: "We want to fight for medals in all four Olympic competitions!" The 53-year-old former world-class luger also directly gives the realistic explanation for the season's goals: "In women's singles we have caught up internationally, that was our discipline with the biggest worries for a long time. This means we can also fight for the podium again in team relay. In the men's and doubles we are very well positioned. There are also good people coming up in the juniors who can already surprise with a lot of self-confidence."
In April 2021, the Austrian national luge team started its targeted Olympic preparation. Head coach Friedl looks back: "Our police officers were still in training in the spring. Since June, they have all been back in training. We concentrated on coordination, strength and start training. In addition, there were summer luge courses on the tracks in Altenberg and Zwickau. The preparation was still a bit limited by the coronavirus with regard to possible trips and training courses. You simply can't move around freely yet. That's why the training course on the Spanish island of Lanzarote at the end of the summer was a good thing to get out a bit. We had very good training conditions at Club la Santa, everyone came back motivated and fit."
Athletically, the experienced coach Mandi Hillebrand and the young, highly motivated Peter Penz have contributed their expertise: "We are quite satisfied with the state of preparation so far. We have already seen some individual best performances athletically and in the start tests during the preparation. The Innsbruck Olympic Centre with Carson Patterson is successfully supporting us in this, we are very grateful for that," says the head coach.
In the last three weeks of preparation for the Olympic season, the team wants to concentrate on the ice starts and final work on the equipment. René Friedl tells: "We have again put a focus on the material development with the technology centre under the direction of Andreas Linger and our partners in the material sector. There is some new material that we will be able to test at the start of the season and hopefully then also use in competitions."
The coaching team will be expanded by one person to six coaches for the coming season: "Tobias, Peter, Mandi and I are back, just like last year. Gerhard Mayer remains our proven physio. Robert Manzenreiter and Otto Mayregger will alternately strengthen the coaching team with their expertise. I am very happy about this support in the World Cup season and also for the Olympic Winter Games," says Sports Director René Friedl.
At the beginning of September, the Austrian luge team organised a media training for the athletes. René Friedl considers this to be very important: "Dealing with the press, TV and radio was trained by professionals in interview situations. I hope we will need this more often in the coming winter. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we had a very good, exciting season last winter with high TV ratings and many interviews. We are proud that we have built our team well over the past years and are now among the top nations in all four Olympic disciplines."
The Austrian World Cup team with four women, five men and three doubles has already been determined. Until the eighth World Cup of the season in Oberhof, the points for the Olympic qualification are at stake for the World Cup team. There will be one strike result for each sled. René Friedl wants to nominate the first athletes for the Olympic Games already after the home World Cup and the Christmas break. The Austrian Olympic Committee will nominate the first athletes on 17 January 2022. The last starting places for the Olympics will then be allocated on 23 January 2022.
For the national team from Austria, the ice season starts on September 29th, when the coaching team leaves with the equipment for the first training course in Lillehammer. The athletes will fly to Norway on October 1st. After the first week of training they will go on to Sigulda (LAT). René Friedl reports: "After the second training course in Sigulda we will return to Innsbruck, then Oberhof and Altenberg are on the schedule before we go to the new Olympic track in China on November 3rd. That will be a very interesting season. We are looking forward to it".
photos: 1x FIL/Mareks Galinovskis, 3x Rodel Austria