Makena Hodgson Wins First Senior National Luge Crown at Canadian Championships in Whistler
WHISTLER, B.C.—In a year remembered for COVID-19 bringing the sport world to its knees, Makena Hodgson, Reid Watts along with Olympic medallists Tristan Walker and Justin Snith, will have their names etched in the history book as Senior Canadian Luge Champions for 2021.
Hodgson rocketed to her first women’s Senior Canadian Luge Championship title at the Whistler Sliding Centre on Saturday afternoon. Hometown boy, Watts, captured the men’s singles crown, while Walker and Snith locked up their 10th national title in doubles action.
It was the young Hodgson who stole the show on one of the most challenging tracks in the world with a golden time of 1:18.353 in women’s singles.
“I’m definitely happy with the way I’ve progressed in my sliding this year,” said Hodgson, who was third in last year’s Canadian Championships. “I’ve really been focusing on myself and working to nail every aspect of my sliding.”
The 20-year-old Canuck battled every inch of the track in her two trips down the icy chute that winds down Blackcomb Mountain. Sitting in second place behind Carolyn Maxwell in the opening run, Hodgson put down the fastest final run time (39.197) to snag top spot on the podium.
“On race day, I really just took it step-by-step. I knew that I had put the work in to be fully capable of winning,” added Hodgson. “My confidence in my abilities definitely helped to propel my sliding, and ultimately, help me win the race. Even though this season isn’t normal by any means, I proved myself today, and will keep moving forward from this and continue to progress in my sliding.”
Maxwell, who is amongst a strong group of promising young Canadian women on the national luge squad, slid into the silver medal position for the third-straight season. The Calgarian stopped the clock at 1:18.365. Trinity Ellis, of Whistler, B.C., was third at 1:18:586.
Watts, of Whistler, B.C., successfully defended his Canadian Championship title in men’s singles racing. The 22-year-old Olympian put down the fastest run in both heats for a combined time of 1:42.270.
"It feels good to be back racing again after such a crazy year," said Watts. "We have been doing a lot of equipment testing these last six weeks, and it's been great to have all of this time on home soil to figure things out. I can't waait to race in Europe in the New Year."
Calgary teen, Cole Zakanski, slid into second place. The 19-year-old clocked a two-run time of 1:42.502. Calgary’s Devin Wardrope was third at 1:43.896.
After the singles race, Wardrope and Zajanski headed back to the top of the track to hop on a doubles sled and take on the veterans of the Canadian squad, Tristan Walker and Justin Snith.
But, it was the most successful doubles tandem in the history of the Canadian luge program who came out on top with a two-run time of 1:17.731.
“Training has been very productive, and we have been getting our new equipment ready for World Cup competition,” said Walker. “Even though we don’t have many competitors in the doubles event (in Canada), it’s always nice to be able to get back into race mode.”
Wardrope and Zajanksi, who finished 12th in their first World Cup doubles race last winter in Altenberg, clocked-in at 1:17.965 for second.
Complete results can be found at: https://www.luge.ca/files/142%20CLA%20Champs_OFFICIAL%20RESULTS_2020_12_05.pdf
International travel risks associated with COVID-19 have kept Canada’s top luge athletes training on home ice at the Whistler Sliding Centre over the last seven weeks. They will continue to live and train in a controlled bubble on Canada’s West Coast until the holiday break before joining the World Cup.
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