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Germany

Taking a Porsche Down the Icy Track

Many people dream about owning a Porsche. For 35-year-old Georg Hackl from Germany that dream has come true. And what's even better: Porsche custom-designed a vehicle for him - but this Porsche comes without wheels.

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Georg Hackl's other sled is a Porsche...

Georg Hackl doesn't mind that his Porsche is too small to impress women. And he doesn't even care about the fact that it's no good on the "Autobahns", Germany's high-speed highways.

Hackl's Porsche isn't a car, it's a luge. And for Georg Hackl, a sled designed by Porsche is probably worth more than a Porsche 911 or a Boxster sports-car.

Georg Hackl is Germany's luge legend. He's won olympic medals at four successive Winter Games. At the last three games, he won the luge gold medal.

If he wins again in Salt Lake City, he'll become the world's most successful athlete ever at Winter Olympics.

Porsche engineering

When Georg Hackl asked the engineers at the Porsche Development Center in Weissach, Germany, for help, they were eager to comply.

After all: if Hackl wins his fourth gold medal, some of the golden glow will undoubtedly reflect back on them.

Georg Hackl approached the people at Porsche because he hoped they could help him gain valuable tenths of a second.

He says his problem was always getting off to a good start: "Because of a back injury, I regularly lose valuable time at the start and I've then got to make up this time during the run".

Top Secret Improvements

The Porsche engineers spent two full months improving Hackl's sled. But the actual technical refinements they came up with are still top-secret.

The world will only get to see this valuable piece of German engineering on February 6, 2002, when Hackl starts his training runs in Salt Lake City.

"The luge competition is just like a game of poker," Hackl says. "You don't lay your cards on the table right until the very end."

The Porsche engineers began by analyzing all the dynamic processes involved in a luge race. Then they examined the specific requirements of the Salt Lake City Track.

It's considered to be the world's fastest luge track. The athletes will reach speeds of over 145 kilometers per hour (90 mph). It will take them only about 48 seconds to complete the 1,340 meters long (4,400 feet) icy track.

What the Porsche people aimed to build was a luge that's easy to maneuver in the upper part of the track and that will pick up speed later on in the race.

Only Hackl knows

How exactly that was done remains unclear. The engineers at the Porsche Development Center have been sworn to secrecy.

Apparently, not even Georg Hackl's coach knows all the details of how they improved the sled. "If the experiment is successful," Hackl says, "I might reveal the details of what Porsche has done."

Meanwhile Hackl is guarding his Porsche sled like the apple of his eye.

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