Bob hughes, the manager of the 1984 U.S. luge team, has a favorite story about Italy's Norbert Huber (at left): "We're at Lake Placid and all the sliders are complaining about how tough the track is that day. Huber's teammate. Paul Hildgartner, who won the gold at Sarajevo—even he's complaining. Huber turns to Hildgartner and says. 'You're a baby. Slide fast or get out of the sport.' "
Huber's problem at Calgary might be that the Olympic course is not tough enough for him. "He likes steep, twisty runs," says Hughes, "Calgary's a highway." Austria's Markus Prock (page 188), who won last year's world championships on a similar highway at Igls, Austria, could be a threat for the gold, as could East Germany's Rene Friedl, who came from anonymity to win the pre-Olympic event at Calgary last February.
In doubles, the safe choice is Joerg Hoffmann and Jochen Pietzsch, the East German pair who won the pre-Olympic event. But it seems West German duos are always in the best sync come the Olympics, and Federal Republic youngsters Stefan Ilsanker, 22, and Georg Hackl, 21, or veterans Thomas Schwab, 25, and Wolfgang Staudinger, 24, will probably take the gold.
Four of the top five women lugers are East Germans: the 1984 gold medalist, Steffi Walter: Cerstin Schmidt, the world champion last year: Gabriela Kohlisch, second to Schmid; and Ute Oberhoffner, the bronze medalist at Sarajevo. The fifth woman, and the one with the best chance to break the Eastern bloc's hold, is Bonny Warner of the U.S. (page 192).
While a hybrid bob/luge run such as the Olympic course may seem wide and unchallenging to the sliders, it strikes the bob drivers as tight and turny. The East German sledders did exceedingly well on the bob/luge track at Sarajevo, winning gold and silver in both the two-man and four-man bob events. Wolfgang Hoppe piloted both winning sleds in '84 and is the man to beat again, at least in the two-man. In the big sleds, the veteran Swiss team (page 82) could carry the day. At Sarajevo, the U.S.S.R. raced in the sleek "cigar" sleds, but new standards have outlawed them. Will the Soviets' 1988 model measure up? For that matter, will the American sleds? If either team fields a fast bob, it has pilots to win a medal. "We're a dark horse," says U.S. Bobsled Association executive director Dave Heim. "But this is our best chance to win a medal since we took a bronze in '56."
[Gold]Hoppe Schauerhammer, E. Ger.
[Bronze]Kipurs Kaslov, U.S.S.R.
[Silver]East Germany I
[Gold]Norbert Huber, Italy
[Silver]Markus Prock, Austria
[Bronze]Rene Friedl, E. Ger.
[Gold]Ilsanker/Hackl, W. Ger.
[Silver]Schwab/Staudinger, W. Ger.
[Bronze]Hoffmann/Pietzsch, E. Ger.
[Gold]Steffi Walter, E. Ger.
[Silver]Cerstin Schmidt, E. Ger.
[Bronze]Gabriela Kohlisch, E. Ger.