Canada's Next Generation of Luge Talent Set to Battle the World
-Calgarian Marshall Savill to lead team on Junior
The Canadian Luge Association named six athletes to the Canadian Junior Luge Team that will compete on the Junior World Cup circuit following an extensive pre-season selection camp that wrapped up with the Junior Canadian Championships held in Calgary. The Canadian Luge Association will send three athletes to compete in men's singles, while two more athletes will suit up for women's singles. One team has been selected for men's doubles.
Leading the junior squad is Calgary's Marshall Savill who slid to a double-gold performance in both the junior men's singles and doubles at the Junior Canadian Championships, and 17-year-old Alex Gough, who slid to the top of the podium in the junior women's singles races.
"The talent pool among our Canadian luge athletes is really climbing to new heights," said Tim Farstad, director, Canadian Luge Association. "Both Marshall (Savill) and Alex (Gough) are prime examples of the success the Canadian Luge Association is experiencing as a result of our world-leading development programs."
With four years of experience on the junior team under his belt, Savill will guide Canada's next crop of luge elite onto the Junior World Cup circuit. Savill will be joined in doubles this season with new partner, Aaron Christensen, 17, of Kimberly B.C. Rounding out the junior men's team are 19-year-old Mike Jepson of Calgary, along with fellow Calgarian Nick Olson, 17, who are both returning for their second season.
Christensen, who is entering his rookie season, is part of the first generation of luge athletes to show promise after being recruited in B.C. as part of the "Legacies Now" program, which is geared towards targeting and recruiting potential podium-reaching Canadian athletes. Christensen, who was recruited during the winter of 2001-02, and who last year joined the development team, has exploded onto the junior luge racing scene kicking off the season with a first-place finish with teammate Marshall Savill at the Junior Canadian Championships.
"It is exceedingly critical to target these young athletes who exhibit exceptional sliding potential and to take their talent and mold it through our training programs," said Farstad. "Aaron is one such example, as he was recruited, then brought to Calgary to train at the development level. We are starting to reap the benefits of heavy recruitment initiatives from coast-to-coast, with Canada seeing a steady rise of luge athletes prepared to take on the world's best."
Canada's training system for luge athletes is considered one of the best in the world, focusing on a heavy recruitment campaign of targeting high-performance athletes from other sports, in addition to a long-term development strategy.
Hot on the trail of Canada's Senior Team is the junior women's duo of Alex Gough and Amanda Byrne, 19, also of Calgary. Byrne, who is in her last season as a junior, is gearing up for a pivotal season as she sets her sight on next year's Olympic campaign. Gough, who is a current student at the National Sport School, which is a joint initiative with the Calgary Board of Education and CODA, has experienced rapid growth as a luge athlete, steadily climbing the ranks as a solid contender in international competition.
The Canadian Junior Luge Team will kick off their international campaign at the first Junior World Cup race December 2-3, in Lillehammer, Norway.
Guiding the junior team down the 2004-05 campaign is Chris Moffat, who retired from luge after the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The newest coach to the Canadian team, Moffat brings 12 years of sliding experience and posted Canada's best ever Olympic luge result when he was fifth in Salt Lake City. Joining Moffat is Russian-born Mikael Zaviolov who has trained Canada's junior athletes for three years.
The Canadian Luge Associaton is the governing body for luge racing in Canada. In partnership with CODA, the Canadian Luge Association operates the Olympic Luge Training Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, which develops our nation's high-performance luge athletes and promotes the sport across the country. For more information on the Canadian Luge Association, please visit us at www.luge.ca on the Internet.