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Three young luge athletes named to Team Canada for the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games

CALGARY (December 19, 2023) – Luge Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee have announced Canada’s luge team selected to compete at the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games.

The Team Canada luge team for the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) is:

Athletes
Ava Lucia Huerta (Calgary, Alta.)
Bastian van Wouw (Red Deer, Alta.)
Maya Yuen (Calgary, Alta.)

The athletes were selected based on achieving the qualification standards as well as their standing in the 2023-2024 International Luge Federation (FIL) ranking through to December 10, 2023.

Maya Yuen, who is currently a member of Luge Canada’s Junior Development Team, placed second at Luge Canada’s 2023 Canadian Youth Championships. The 16-year-old cites winning a bronze medal at the Youth A Continental Cup in Whistler in January 2023 as her career highlight to date. Yuen’s interest in luge began while watching the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games on television. Competing at Gangwon 2024 will give Yuen and her teammates the opportunity to slide at the same venue that was used during PyeongChang 2018.

“It is an honour and a privilege for me to be chosen to represent Canada at the Youth Olympic Games,” said Yuen. “I will be proudly wearing the maple leaf as a symbol of Canada’s values on my clothes and in my heart. Being able to participate at this high level of sport is validation that my time and effort on and off the track is being rewarded. I am looking forward to creating lifelong memories while competing on the world stage.”

Bastian van Wouw, a member of Luge Canada’s Junior National Team, competed at the 2022 FIL Junior World Championships, as well as two Junior World Cup events in the 2022-2023 season. The former hockey goalie also began his luge career in 2018, and loves the speed and thrill of the sport of luge.

Ava Lucia Huerta won the gold medal in the Youth B event of the 2023 Canadian Youth Championships, and competed alongside Yuen at the FIL Youth A World Cup / Continental Cup in Winterberg earlier this month, with a result that qualified her for Gangwon 2024.

Team Canada has sent luge athletes to all previous editions of the winter YOG, and has won three medals. At Lillehammer 2016, Brooke Apshkrum won the gold medal in women’s singles and Reid Watts won the bronze medal in men’s singles. At Lausanne 2020, Natalie Corless and Caitlin Nash won the silver medal in women’s doubles.

To date, Team Canada has converted five Youth Olympic luge athletes into Olympians. Mitchel Malyk and John Fennell competed at Innsbruck 2012 and became Olympians at Sochi 2014. Malyk also competed at PyeongChang 2018. Apshkrum and Watts competed at Lillehammer 2016 and became Olympians at PyeongChang 2018. Watts also competed at Beijing 2022. Natalie Corless, competed at Lausanne 2020 and became an Olympian at Beijing 2022.

The event of women’s doubles luge will make its Olympic debut at Milano Cortina 2026, after having been an event on the Lausanne 2020 sport program.

Mike Lane, Luge Canada’s head coach of the junior team, will act as both coach and Team Leader for luge at Gangwon.

“This is an exciting step for these athletes to be able to compete internationally under the Olympic banner,” said Lane. “It is a unique opportunity that only comes once for every athlete and I’m confident that these athletes are aware of how special it is. This will be a wonderful learning experience for each of them, which they can then translate into the next chapters of their careers that will ultimately lead to repeated success at the Olympic level.”

Luge will take place January 20 – 23 (Days 1 to 4) at the Alpensia Sliding Centre.

“Congratulations to Team Canada’s three luge athletes who will compete at the Winter Youth Olympic Games,” said Lisa Weagle, Team Canada’s Gangwon 2024 Chef de Mission. “Canadian luge had historic success on this track in 2018, and I’m looking forward to cheering on this next generation as they slide with pride and experience this exciting step in their luge journey.” 

The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) are the world’s largest multi-sport event for high-performance young athletes aged 15 – 18. Gangwon 2024 will begin on January 19 and will end on February 1, 2024 and will feature 1900 athletes. Gangwon 2024 will be the fourth edition of the Winter YOG and the first in Asia. It will have a fully gender-balanced sporting program, and will feature seven sports, 15 disciplines, and a total of 81 events. 

Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Organisations.

The latest Team Canada Gangwon 2024 roster can be found here, and additional press resources can be found here.