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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

An inventory: Gold guarantors and worries: Where is German winter sports?

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After the World Cup is before the Olympics: German winter athletes are already working towards the 2026 games. Who could expand their medal collection and what are the youngsters doing? An inventory.

The ski jumpers are celebrating Katharina Althaus for three World Championship gold medals, the biathletes are looking for a successor to Denise Herrmann-Wick and the alpine athletes are puzzled about the women’s misery in giant slalom. In the post-Olympic season, the German range of winter sports ranges from sparkling guarantees of success to disappointing problem children.

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After the major World Cup events, the season is entering the home stretch. Where is German winter sports one year after the Olympics and who could write the next snowy fairy tale at the 2026 Games in Milan/Cortina d’Ampezzo? An inventory.

Fast pilots

As at the Olympics, the bobsledders were the measure of all things this winter. With the exception of monobob, where Laura Nolte finished second, all overall World Cup victories went to Germany. “We were able to maintain our level of performance and also introduced the youngsters well,” said head coach René Spies. In the luge competition, Julia Taubitz won the overall World Cup in the women’s singles event ahead of Dajana Eitberger. Three-time Olympic champion Felix Loch was second overall ahead of Max Langenhahn. And the two-seater duo Tobias Wendl/ Tobias Arlt secured the big crystal globe. In the Skeletonis, Christopher Grotheer completed his collection of titles by winning the overall World Cup, Susanne Kreher won two World Championship golds – the 2026 Olympics can come!

When it matters

After a mixed season and a very weak Four Hills Tournament, the World Championships in Planica went better than expected for the ski jumpers. Andreas Wellinger took silver, Karl Geiger bronze on the normal hill. In addition, there was gold for both in the mixed team with Katharina Althaus and Selina Freitag. Althaus also shone in Slovenia as a three-time world champion and is looking forward to the first women’s ski flying in Vikersund on March 19th. The ski jumpers were there at the high point of the season – a good omen for the Olympics.

Cheers to the oldies

Biathlon Olympic champion Denise Herrmann-Wick (34) fulfilled her last major goals with gold and silver at the home World Championships in Oberhof. But who’s coming? Talents like Vanessa Voigt or Sophia Schneider are ready, but there is a lot missing to be the absolute best. Great hopes are placed on the return of Franziska Preuss (28). For the men, there is not enough pressure from below on the established around veteran Benedikt Doll (32). It takes two or three years to get the next one up, said sporting director Felix Bitterling. It’s going to be tight with the Winter Games.

In the Alpine category, too, Lena Dürr (31), third in the World Championships, is a ski oldie who provides the highlights. The speed athletes are a cause for concern, as they were hardly able to improve their miserable winter balance sheet even with Andi Sander’s second place last time in Aspen. It is even worse for the women in giant slalom. “We’re missing a bit of guys,” complained Alpinchef Maier and saw weak points in the youth work: “We have to develop this competitive gene.”

The young wild

After all, in Emma Aicher (19) a young skier has made her way to the top of the world. The all-rounder is the biggest German alpine hope and will probably reach for medals in the speed and technical disciplines in Italy in 2026 – in contrast to the combined athlete Nathalie Armbruster. The 17-year-old is the future hope in a sport with an uncertain future. The student won silver twice on her World Championships debut in Planica. But: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not want to allow women’s competitions in Nordic combined at the Olympics in 2026 either.

The go-getters

In cross-country skiing, the upswing, which was first noticed at the 2022 Olympics, continued with World Championship gold in the women’s team sprint and silver in the women’s relay. Olympic champion Katharina Hennig celebrated her first ever World Cup victory in January. Second place in the women’s relay was the first World Cup medal for German cross-country skiing in twelve years. There was also bronze for the men’s relay. If the trend continues, medals at the Olympics are inevitable.

The problem child

Speed ​​skating, which used to guarantee medals, is only second-rate internationally. The glory days of five-time Olympic champion Claudia Pechstein (51) are over. The Berliner and Fridtjof Petzold ensured the only two German top ten placements in individual decisions at the World Cup. Olympic medals were last won at the 2010 Vancouver Games. The association has hopes for short and medium-distance athletes such as Moritz Klein and Stefan Emele. “There will be another medal in 2026,” assured the head of the association, Matthias Große. The time is running.

Source: Stern

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