This declaration of war could not have been clearer. With eight wins in eight disciplines, the Austrian luge team made a strong statement at the start of the World Cup in Innsbruck.

After the German team had won everything at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, the competition from the neighboring country has become noticeably stronger. “That’s also very surprising for me. You couldn’t assume that it would work out in such a competitive environment,” said Georg Hackl, who has been working as a technical trainer for Austria since May.

“It’s bitter for Felix”: Loch fell

Even the three-time Olympic champion Felix Loch could not prevent the dominance of the competition. After a mixed first run, the 33-year-old fell in the second on the approach to turn 14 and finished the race in 15th place. Hackl was also hurt. “Of course I suffer with Felix. He’s a good friend,” Hackl said on ARD. Loch suffered a thigh contusion and decided not to start in the sprint. “It’s bitter for Felix. We weren’t competitive in the men’s team today,” said his father, the German national coach Norbert Loch.

As on the day before in the men’s doubles, only the Austrians made it onto the podium. Nico Gleirscher won ahead of Wolfgang Kindl and Jonas Müller. The best German tobogganist was 19-year-old Timon Grancagnolo. The Chemnitz native finished seventh in his first World Cup race. “A terrific performance,” said the national coach.

“The pressure after the Olympics was great”

In the absence of the retired and resting Olympic champions Johannes Ludwig and Natalie Geisenberger, the best result for the German team was second place in the women’s doubles race held for the first time by Jessica Degenhardt/Cheyenne Rosenthal (Altenberg/Winterberg). Overall World Cup winner Julia Taubitz (Oberwiesenthal) had to settle for third place behind winner and co-favourite Madeleine Egle (Austria), who set a track record, and American Emily Sweeney.

“The pressure after the Olympics was great. I was very nervous,” said the 25-year-old, who missed a medal at the Winter Games in Beijing after a fall and only finished seventh. Taubitz was also third in the sprint. “We still have room for improvement and still many chances to improve. We push each other,” said the woman from Oberwiesenthal.

National coach Loch sees an attraction in the strong competition. “I’m not worried. That challenges us. The Austrians rode fantastically today and we lacked the last bite,” said the coach.