Lake Placid (pps) In 1993, Gerda Weissensteiner of Italy was the last non-German World champion in the women’s singles. In 1994, she also took the Olympic gold medal. But from then on, only athletes of the German federation, BSD, climbed to the top of the podium in the women’s singles at all FIL Luge World Championships. And since 1999 there were even eight World Championships when all three medals went to Germany – just as at the Olympic Winter Games in 2002 and 2006.
However, Austria’s Angelika Neuner achieved to grab a bronze medal at home in Innsbruck-Igls in 1997 – the last non-German to win a medal in the women’s singles. And bearing the winning streak of now 88 consecutive victories in the Viessmann Luge World Cup in mind, Germany’s national coach would rate any other result than three medals as a sensation.
But a sensation seems to be possible. Because Lake Placid is always good for a surprise. Especially on the demanding track at the foot of Mount van Houvenberg, numerous athletes from different countries have put a dent into the dominance of Germany’s women lugers. For instance, Russia’s Anastasia Oberstolz-Antonova – after her marriage she competed for Italy - achieved this feat in the 2003-2004 (third) and the 2005-2006 (second) season of the Viessmann Luge World Cup. However, the wife of Christian Oberstolz, European doubles’ champion together with Patrick Gruber, has not competed since the Olympic Winter Games in Torino and the birth of daughter Alexandra in the summer of 2007.
Another possible „candidate“ is Regan Lauscher who posted Canada’s best result of all times in the Viessmann Luge World Cup when she finished second in 2004. After a long break due to injury the journalist returned to the World Cup circuit at the beginning of the year. But quite understandably, she is not yet in top shape. “But I like the track in Lake Placid”, Regan Lauscher said. Additionally, the US hosts also celebrated victories in the women’s singles on their home-track. In the 1991-1992 winter, Cammy Myler won the World Cup, Becky Wilczak posted a second place in November 2001. Germany’s women lugers missed this event because they carried out their Olympic qualifying event in La Plagne, France, at the same time. By the way – it was Sonja Wiedemann who saved Germany’s winning series. Even though she took the 1999 World Championship title she failed the 2001-2002 Olympic selection trials early on.
At the World Championship test in December 2007, Julia Clukey achieved a fourth place on her home track. In the 2005-2006 season, US luger Samantha Retrosi – she already ended her active career - punched the ticket for the Olympic Games, finishing fourth in Lake Placid. And Erin Hamlin even grabbed two fifth places (2005-2006 and 2007-2008). Top favourite and defending champion Tatjana Huefner of Germany – implausible though it may seem – can only dream of similar successes. The two-time World champion competed twice in Lake Placid. And she failed to do better than a ninth and a tenth place. “But I want to defend my title”, a confident Tatjana Huefner said for all that.
According to Germany’s luge idol Georg Hackl, the chance to put an end to the winning series of Germany’s women lugers is greater on tracks such as Sigulda, Latvia and Lake Placid. “We will be able to defeat them one day”, added Regan Lauscher of Canada. “Maybe as soon as in Lake Placid.”