German athletes go for gold at Winter Olympics in Vancouver

German athletes go for gold at Winter Olympics in Vancouver
Photo: DPA
A winter-sports powerhouse, Germany is hoping to dominate the Olympic Games starting in Vancouver on Friday.

But the German athletes will have their work cut out for them if they wish to repeat their feat of winning the most medals as they did four years ago in Turin. Host nation Canada, the United States, Norway, Austria and Russia are Germany’s strongest rivals for gold, silver and bronze.

The German Olympic team is sends a total of 153 athletes to this year’s Winter Games and quite a few of them are medal contenders.

Certainly that´s true for the biathlon gold-hopeful Magdalena Neuner, who shows enthusiasm for the Olympic flair and the cross-country ski trails.

“The conditions are heavenly. It´s almost like vacation. I’m enjoying it,” she said recently on her 23rd birthday, which was sweetened by a chocolate cake. The six-time world champion now wants some gold icing on top at Vancouver.

“It´s my dream to be Olympic champion,“ said Neuner. “If I can perform as smoothly in the firing range as in training, then I know victory is possible.”

The Bavarian, along with world champion sprinter Kathi Wilhelm, Andrea Henkel and Simone Hauswald could win a first medal on Saturday, thereby seeing the German effort off to a perfect start.

And if the Biathlon races go smoothly then the hard-running Neuner won´t exclude a start in the cross-country relay: “It´s already in the back of my mind, but the Biathlon takes first priority.”

The German Ski Team intends to contribute the majority of Olympic medals in Vancouver.

“Fifteen medals plus some are our target. The more widely dispersed the better. That we´re successful in every area is just as important as the number of medals,” said ski boss Alfons Hörmann.

Among the German gold medal hopefuls are world champion slalom racer Maria Riesch, the figure skating pair Robin Szolkowy and Aljona Savchenko, speed skater Jenny Wolf, the two-time Olympic winner bobsled ace André Langen as well as the luge specialist Tatjana Hüfner and the two-seater team of André Florschütz and Torsten Wustlich.

Dark horse candidates for gold include Kitzbühel champion Felix Neureuther for the slalom and Amelie Kober, who secured nine world cup snowboarding victories before Vancouver.

But the chances of two-time Olympic champion speed skater Anni Friesinger-Postma are uncertain, since the 33-year-old is struggling to come back from a knee injury and controversy surrounding the team doctor. But she hasn’t lost her winning mindset.

“The first day on the ice was good. Since I´ve been here there´s only been sunshine, and I see that as a good omen,” Friesinger-Postma said.

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