Olympics: 'Cannibal' Zoeggeler to lead Italy in Sochi
Luge specialist has won five Olympic medals, two golds08 October, 16:38
He is the only Italian to have won medals at five consecutive Winter Olympics - in addition to his golds, he also took bronze at Lillehammer in 1994 and Vancouver in 2010 and silver in Nagano in 1998.
He has also been crowned world champion six times - 1995, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2011. The quiet Carabiniere police officer from a German-speaking minority in the northern region of Alto Adige also won the luge World Cup 10 times between 1997 and 2011.
Some might say this is even more impressive than his world championship and Olympic crowns as the World Cup measures an athlete's performance over an entire season, rather than his ability to get things right on the big occasion.
The father of two has more individual World Cup race wins than any other competitor in his sport, with 55.
German Georg Hackl and Austrian Markus Prock share second place with 34 wins each.
"He is the greatest athlete of all time in his sport," said Giovanni Malagò, the president of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI). "He has won two Olympic gold medals, a silver and two bronzes.
"He's the only athlete active in any winter sport discipline who can aspire to winning his sixth consecutive Olympic medal.
"I'm very happy and I thank the Carabinieri, who are an ally in this decision that honours and gratifies the whole country". Zoeggeler's passion for his sport started with bobsledding when he was a small child.
He began natural track luging at the age of seven. He switched to artificial track luging when he was 14 and soon became junior world champion.
He has been on the Italian national team since 1992.
"Even after all the wins I've racked up, one thing has remained unchanged since my earliest childhood: the intoxicating joy of standing on the highest platform of the winners' podium," Zoeggeler said on his website (www.arminzoeggeler.it).
"That alone is motivation enough to continue my active involvement in racing sports".