Luge Canada

Winning is Otto-matic German slider in a groove at COP

Paul Magrini, Calgary HeraldSylke Otto spent Friday tearing down records and building dreams.

In what seemingly is becoming an average day for her this season, the German luger slid to her third straight first-place finish in the women's singles at the Luk Challenge Cup, a monetary incentive, skins-style competition.

The 30-year-old Otto was the quickest down the Canada Olympic Park track on each of three runs and she twice produced records on the icy track.

It didn't long for her to set a record, either, as she rocketed down the course with an opening 44.558 to eclipse the old mark by more than 1/10 of a second.

From there, she proceeded to better the new time with a second run of 44.532, now the official COP track record.

Moreover, her final run en route to the championship was also under the old record time.

"I had three great runs,"said the 11-year German national team veteran, who plans to contribute the $3,200 in first-place winnings to the on-going construction of a home near Nuremberg. "I'm very statisfied with that."

Essentially, Otto's record-breaking day turned into an assault on her personal best at COP. She already owned the previous record set two years ago.

On Dec. 19, 1997, she slid into history for the first time in Calgary with a 44.615 run. It was a day she remembers vividly.

"Back then it was very cold outside," she said through an interpreter. "And the times together were very close between competitors. Today, I had a much larger lead in time to the
second-place finisher."

Otto, in fact, was the only women's competitor to record a time under the 45-second mark Friday, something she said was aided by superb track conditions.

"I'm very pleased I was able to make the track record even better. "

For Otto, the Luk Challenge Cup victory is virtually an appendage of her success on the senior Viessmann World Cup tour this luge season.

In two previous money tournament races, she also finished in top spot and has lost just one race all year, which was a second-place finish to teammate Silke Kraushaar by 1/1000 of a second in Altenberg, Germany.

"It's going wonderfully the entire season," she said. "I've had similar races like this one and all I'm doing is going down the run the same."

Perhaps. But some on the World Cup tour believe Otto's domination is the result of a diet and exercise program she implemented this summer, a regimen which reduced her body weight by 10 kilograms.

Introduced to luge through school back in 1980, Otto will now turn her competitive attention to today's women's singles race on the Viessmann World Cup circuit, just 24 hours after turning in the best-ever female times at COP.

As a result, it doesn't provide her with much time to savour Friday's victory or count her cash, but, mentally, she believes the win can carry over.

"(Winning yesterday) does give me some personal security for today," she said. "And because of that, I should slide well."

On the men's side of the Luk Challenge Cup, fellow German Georg Hackl -- a silver medallist at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Games - claimed the top prize with a final run of 45.743. Meanwhile,
countrymen Steffen Skel and Steffen Woller were victorious in men's doubles.

Original>">Original article in >"> Calgary Herald Online

Reprinted with permission from The Calgary Herald
Copyright (c) 1999 The Calgary Herald New Media