Young Canadian Luge Squad Zones in on World Cup Podium During Olympic Season
Calgary-With the 2006 Olympic Winter Games on the horizon, Canada will field the youngest luge team in the world - one that combines significant veteran leadership and youthful talent with proven results - when the critical 2005-06 World Cup campaign kicks off next week in Sigulda, Latvia.
-Lauscher focused on Olympic podium,
The Canadian Luge Association named 14 athletes to the senior Canadian Luge Team that will compete on the World Cup circuit this year following an extensive pre-season selection camp that wrapped up last week in Lake Placid, N.Y., during a media conference at Olympic Spirit in Toronto on Monday.
Olympians, Regan Lauscher and Grant Albrecht of Red Deer, Alta., Eric Pothier of Airdrie, Alta., and Chris and Michael Moffat of Calgary will be counted on to lead the youthful contingent of Canadian luge athletes, who are on average, 10 years younger than the top-ranked athletes in the World Cup rankings.
"Canada has assembled a young team that brings a combination of Olympic and World Cup experience, with success at the junior international level," said Tim Farstad, executive director, Canadian Luge Association. "With the next Olympic Winter Games right around the corner, these upcoming World Cup races are critical to ensure our entire team gains the necessary experience, and preparation, needed to achieve excellence in Torino."
The Canadian Luge Association will fill its quotas for the duration of the World Cup season. Canada will send five athletes to compete in men's singles, four in women's singles and will suit up three teams to wear the maple leaf in men's doubles. The team will compete in eight World Cup races between November 4 and the end of January, including one on the Olympic Track in Cesana Pariol, Italy, November 18-19. The latter event will mark the first, and only time, the world's top sliders will take to the 1,435-metre-long track prior to the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.
The 25-year-old Lauscher, a five-time Canadian champion and Canada's first ever World Cup silver medallist, will guide the strongest quartet of women Canada has ever pulled together for World Cup competition. Joining Lauscher will be 19-year-old Meaghan Simister of Calgary, who will be competing in her third year on the senior circuit, and Calgary's Madison Dupuis, 18, who won the national women's singles title last year. Rounding out the sleds in women's singles this season will be Alex Gough, who will make her World Cup debut in Latvia.
"Heading into the 2002 Olympics, I was the lone woman in Canada training with the men's team," said Lauscher, who added winning the nation's first ever World Cup silver medal last year will bring her additional confidence heading into the Olympic year. "We now have a strong group of young girls pushing me every day, and it is a great environment to train in because we all hate to lose. It's the perfect setting in which to excel when you're surrounded by such a dedicated group of great athletes."
Jeff Christie of Calgary, the 2005 national champion and Canadian men's singles leader on the World Cup rankings last year, will guide a rising young crop vying for a spot on the podium in the men's division. Calgary's Ian Cockerline, 21, will join the 22-year-old Christie in men's singles. Mike Jepson of Calgary will also compete in his first year on the World Cup this winter. Sam Edney, who is launching his second campaign on the World Cup circuit, will round out the men's singles team. Canada will add one more athlete to the men's team after a final selection race in Calgary.
However, the 21-year-old Edney, one of Canada's most accomplished junior luge athletes, will also compete in men's doubles with 19-year-old partner, and fellow Calgarian, Gwyn Lewis. The twosome paired up to win silver medals at the 2004 Junior Luge World Championships and the 2005 Canadian Championships.
Edney and Lewis will be relying on the leadership of teammates and Olympic luge veterans, Grant Albrecht and Eric Pothier. Albrecht and Pothier, the 2005 Canadian men's doubles champions, and fifth-place finishers at last season's World Cup race in Calgary, will be focused on stepping onto their first World Cup podium this season. Along with his then doubles partner, Chris Moffat, Pothier posted Canada's best-ever Olympic luge result with a fifth-place finish in 2002 at Salt Lake City.
The Canadian Luge Team received good news with the recent return of Moffat, 26, and his younger brother Mike, 23. The sibling duo will team up for men's doubles with the national squad this year. Both Moffat brothers took a three-year hiatus from luge competition after the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, with Chris serving as a coach with the national junior team and Mike working as a contract officer with the Calgary Parole Board.
Walter Corey will continue to guide the Canadian squad in its journey towards winning Canada's first-ever Olympic luge medal. A veteran of the sport who worked his way through the Canadian luge system, Corey has guided the national team since 1995. He will be joined at the helm of the Canadian program by assistant coach Robert Fegg, who raced five years with the German National Team.
Of the 14 athletes named, 10 will be selected to the Olympic squad, the largest team ever that will compete at the Games for the Canadian Luge Team, which will be announced in January. Canada plans to field a full squad at the Olympics, which will include three athletes each from men's and women's singles, and two doubles teams.
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.
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CODA, Communications Specialist