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Tristan Walker and Justin Snith Fight for Seventh in Final Olympic Doubles Race

BEIJING, Chn.—Canada’s Tristan Walker and Justin Snith set a new start record at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre, fueling a seventh place finish in their final Olympic doubles race on Wednesday.

It wasn’t the result they hoped for, but Canada’s most successful doubles luge team put it all on the line to deliver their strongest result of the season after clocking a two-run time of 1:57.918 on the 16-corner track.

“Luge is a sport of speed versus safety. There is a constant risk-reward calculation being done,” said Walker. “We have a nice set of safe runners that would get us down the hill with no drama, but we know they would not get us to the podium. That is not why we stuck around for four years after PyeongChang.

“That said, it is disappointing (not to be on the podium) but at least we can walk away with no regrets – we went for it.”

Walker (Cochrane, Alta.) and Snith (Calgary) charged out of the start handles in their opening run as they have so many times while ripping down icy chutes around the world over the last 13 years. The longtime friends set a new start record at 7.013.

Struggling to find their top form all year, the 30-year-olds were clean until the tricky 13th corner which caught the best of them in both heats, and costing them another shot at Olympic glory.

“It’s been a battle out of there all week for everybody. It’s tough driving those corners down there with no pressure. There are no real profiles down there. For me it is especially tough because you come out of there feeling the same but have two totally different results on the exit. But, I’m proud of how we battled all year,” said Snith.

“People will never know how hard it was to just get us here. Between COVID, equipment issues and a long season away, if you would have told me at Christmas time that we would have a seventh-place finish at the Olympics I would have been surprised. It was not what we wanted, but it was a hard fight,” added Walker.

The German teams celebrated the gold and silver medals after near flawless runs. Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt were crowned Olympic champions with a time of 1:56.554. Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken stopped the clock at 1:56.653. Austria’s Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koller locked up the bronze medal with a time of f1:57.065.

It was another solid Olympic result for the Canucks. Walker and Snith previously fished fifth (2018), fourth (2014), 15th (2010).

The Canadian duo will have one more run in the team relay before calling it a career.

An impressive career at that.

Arriving onto the international racing scene at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games as wide-eyed 17-year-olds, Walker and Snith were part of a legendary run for Canadian luge where they wrote a few chapters in the history books on their own.

They became the first Canadians ever to win a medal in doubles luge racing on the World Cup in Konigssee, finally braking through after a handful of fourth-place finishes. The triumph ignited an electrifying run on the Canadian Luge Team over the next five years with multiple athletes delivering podium performances.

Walker and Snith, who both share a passion for aviation, grabbed two more bronze medals at World Cup stops in Calgary 2015 and Lake Placid 2019 in addition to taking on the anchor run for 17 team relay World Cup medals, and four team relay World Championship medals.  But their most memorable run came at the 2018 Olympics when they solidified the silver medal in the team relay for Canada.

In addition to chasing one final shot at the Olympic podium, the veterans of the Canadian squad have been mentoring a new generation of luge athletes that has arrived onto the World Cup circuit this year, including a slick-sliding doubles team of 19-year-old, Devin Wardrope and 20-year-old Cole Zajanski.

 “It’s time to hand things over to the young guys. It feels so nice that we were able to do one last season with those boys,” said Walker.  “They have really impressed us, and they nipped at our heels this year. There was a couple of times this year we thought it may have been them here doing this race for Canada.

“They pushed us for sure. We are super proud of them, and I feel like we are leaving the program in good hands with them, and that feels really good.”

Walker and Snith will take one final run in the team relay with two Whistler-based athletes, Trinity Ellis and Reid Watts, on Thursday.

Complete Olympic Doubles Results: