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Canadian Teens Double Up in Seventh at Eberspächer Luge World Cup in Whistler

Devin Wardrope and Cole Zajanski slide to 12th in men’s doubles

WHISTLER, B.C.—Two Canadian teenagers teamed up to finish seventh in their first ever Eberspächer Luge World Cup women’s doubles race on home ice Friday evening in Whistler, B.C.

Beattie Podulsky (Calgary) and Embyr-Lee Susko (Whistler, B.C.), both junior-aged sliders at 18, leaned on each other to shake off pre-race jitters and throw down two veteran runs on the 14-corner chute that winds down Blackcomb Mountain.

“It felt amazing,” beamed Podulsky on the finish dock. “It was really nerve-racking, but I am really happy that we were able to lay down two really good runs. It was awesome to be here and represent Canada in women’s doubles.”

They certainly did.

The newly formed luge tandem posted seventh place runs in both heats, for a combined time of 1:18.920.

“It’s too good. My home track, all of my family and friends are here, it is so much fun,” said Susko. “It (the fun) brings me back to when I first started sliding here, and it is pure bliss every time I come down the track. I’m loving it.”

Podulsky and Susko, who were just four years old when the Whistler Sliding Centre hosted the 2010 Olympics, found immediate chemistry since they started sliding together five weeks ago.

The trust was on full display at the top of the world’s fastest track on Friday evening. 

“We just trust each other. I trust her to get us down, and she trusts me to save it when needed,” added Podulsky. “It is really good teamwork and friendship we got going here, and it really helps me with my mind at the top before heading down the track.”

The Germans grabbed the top-two spots on the podium. Jessica Degenhardt and Cheyenne Rosenthal won gold with a time of 1:18.371. Dajana Eitberger and Saskia Schirmer slid to the silver medal at 1:18.451. Italy’s tandem of Andrea Voetter and Marion Oberhofer, stopped the clock at 1:18.466 for third place.

Competing in her second World Cup ever, Susko has been sliding in the spotlight on home ice while pulling triple duty this week. On Thursday, she was the second-fastest sled down the frozen waterslide in the women’s singles Nations Cup qualifying race. After taking on the world’s elite singles sliders Saturday morning, she and Podulsky will meet at the top of the hill for the debut of women’s doubles in the Eberspächer Team Relay World Cup presented by BMW.

“The difference (sliding doubles from singles) is like driving a semi-truck to driving a sports car,” said Susko. “It’s very big and wide and maneuvering the sled so it is very different. We have different ways to move back and forth from singles to doubles and it has been a lot of fun for me.”

Canada’s men’s doubles specialists, Devin Wardrope and Cole Zajanski, made progress in finding top speed on their sled, placing 12th.

“I think we had two solid consistent runs, so we are pretty happy,” said Wardrope after their top result of the young season. “There is still work to be done at the start but that’s always a continuing challenge. We’ll keep putting the work in there and hopefully we’ll see that translate to the track.”

Working to find comfort on a new sled, the Calgary-based sliders finished with a time of 1:18.046.

“This whole pre-season and first two World Cups we have struggled a lot with the sled setup. We were not very comfortable on it, or quick, so hopefully now with a result like this we can take a few weeks off, regroup and moving forward we can just continue this roll and get better and better,” added Zajanski.

Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt found the fast line down the Whistler Sliding Centre, taking the gold with a time of 1:17.300. Austria’s Thomas Steu and Wolfgang Kindl stopped the clock at 1:17.378, while Hannes Orlamuender and Paul Gubitz, completed their two runs in a time of 1:17.405.

Earlier in the day, it was the next generation of men’s singles sliders taking on the big boys of the sport.

Calgary’s Theo Downey passed his first World Cup test, clocking a solid 17th-place time of 1:41.920 in his two trips down the 16 curves from men’s start. 

“It feels awesome. Making my debut in senior sliding with a top-20 in the big leagues, there is not much to complain about,” said Downey who was third in the Junior World Cup one week ago at the Whistler Sliding Centre. “I had very consistent runs in the junior competitions, so I just tried to carry that over this week. The goal is to be consistent, so I just tried to keep it going.”

Downey was in 16th spot at the midway point of the race but dropped one position when the dust settled at the finish line.

“It’s a privilege to be up there sliding with the big guys of the sport. They are really good so to be around them was awesome,” added the soft-spoken Canuck. “I definitely will take away that I can put down solid runs at this level. I’ll keep cleaning up my runs and continue to get my head back and go faster.”

Germany’s Max Langenhan clocked the top time in both heats to win the gold medal with a time of 1:40.093. Austria’s Jonas Mueller slid to the silver medal in men’s singles at 1:40.348. Latvia’s Kristers Aparjods slid to third place at 1:40.572.

Another young Canadian was back on the elite stage. Dylan Morse, who will turn 19 in two weeks, placed 20th at 1:42.164. The Calgarian climbed four spots up the standings in his final run.

The Eberspächer 2nd Luge World Cup continues on Saturday in Whistler, B.C. with women’s singles racing followed by the Eberspächer Team Relay World Cup presented by BMW.

Complete Eberspächer 2nd Luge World Cup Results:

https://www.fil-luge.org/en/multimedia/eberspaecher-world-cup-27

The Canadian Luge Association is a not-for-profit organization responsible for governing the sport of luge across the country. With the financial backing of from the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee and Own the Podium, the Canadian Luge Association safely recruits and develops the nation’s current and future high-performance luge athletes with the goal of regularly climbing onto the international podium. For more information on the Canadian Luge Association, please visit us at www.luge.ca on the Internet.