Women's ski team leaves luck to underwear and kangaroo
Germany's women have a trick or two up their sleeves as they approach the Olympic Games slalom and giant slalom - underwear and a kangaroo.
With slalom specialist and super-combined champion Maria Riesch in their ranks, the Germans are confident of pushing their way further up the medals rankings. But a little superstition also helps, first time Olympians Kathrin Hölzl and Christina Geiger revealed.
"I have a few routines. Especially, I always wear the same underwear in giant slalom," grinned Hölzl, a 25-year-old from Berchtesgaden who is this season's form skier in the giant slalom.
That's taking a fig-leaf out of Julia Mancuso's book, the US double silver winner who bemused an Austrian television presenter this week by flashing some of her lingerie company's merchandise during a live interview.
The comparatively modest Geiger, who turned 20 on the eve of the Games, puts her faith in a toy kangaroo.
"The kangaroo is my talisman - a friend brought it over from Australia and it brought me luck in the qualifiers," Geiger explained.
Talismans aside, the Germans look good for at least a podium, with Riesch and younger sister Susanne chomping at the bit.
Susanne says her sibling's win in the super-combined has sent a wave of confidence buzzing through the team.
"She has taken some of the pressure off us as we now have a medal for the team. We have a good feeling in the squad," Susanne said.
She added the squad had taken a few days to acclimatise, given the unseasonably mild weather at Whistler.
“We came from training at minus 5 Celsius in Calgary and then went to about plus 13 in Whistler. It's like we jumped right into spring," said Riesch, who revealed that what she had seen of the course for the slalom and giant slalom suggested that it was "hard, but not icy."
Regarding her race-day relationship with Maria, she said: "We give each other a pat - but then we are competitors."
Coach Mathias Berthold says the German women feel they may not hit their target of emulating the six medals won in Alpine racing 12 years ago at Nagano - aided by downhill and combined golds for Katja Seizinger - but they will give it their best shot.
"That will be hard to beat - but it is possible," Berthold mused.