February 7, 2006

Speeding Sausage can’t fly German flag

By Karolos Grohmann

TURIN (Reuters) - Germany's three-time Olympic luge gold
medallist Georg Hackl has refused to be his country's
flagbearer during Friday's Turin Olympics opening ceremony

He wants to focus on his race the next day, a team official
said on Tuesday.

"He said he cannot do it because of his race on Saturday so
we are now in the process of finding another one," a German
team official told Reuters.

"He just could not come down from the mountains, do the
ceremony and then go up again in the evening and race the next

The ceremony will be held in Turin, some 100 kilometres
from where Hackl will be racing the next day.

The official said that biathlete Uschi Disl, whom German
media have tipped to be the country's flagbearer for the
closing ceremony and have said she had also turned down the
offer, was not confirmed for that role.

"The German journalists have said that Disl is the
flagbearer but this is not official," he said. "They have said
it because she is a favorite. The NOC will announce its
decisions on Wednesday."


Disl, German sportswoman of the year in 2005, is favorite
for another gold medal, after her relay victory in Salt Lake
City in 2002.

Hackl, who has also won two silvers at his five Winter
Olympics is known as the "Speeding Sausage" for the way he
squeezes his stocky frame into a tight luge racing suit.

While his nation hopes he will win his fourth gold Hackl,
39, has said his chances are not that good due to recent
injuries and operations that plagued his preparations to the

Hackl, a good-humoured Bavarian who enjoys speeding down
the ice at 130 kph almost as much as he loves the high-calorie
local wheat beer, entered the record books in 2002 as the first
Winter Olympian to win medals at five consecutive games.

Hackl just missed another record in Salt Lake City in 2002
when his attempt to win a fourth consecutive gold medal came up
just 0.329 seconds short, forcing him to settle for a silver
medal behind Armin Zoeggeler of Italy.