Canada's Moffat brothers return to World Cup stage with top-10 result in doubles luge
-Duo slides to sixth-place f
"We've been gone for a while, but we knew we had it in us to come back and compete at this level," said 26-year-old Chris, who, with then doubles partner Eric Pothier, posted Canada's best ever Olympic luge result with a fifth-place finish at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games. "We just made our first little step towards qualifying for the Olympics. With another top-nine result, we're in."
The sibling duo posted times of 47.26 and 47.02 seconds on the track that will be the site of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, to post a sixth-best combined time of 1:34.28 in their first World Cup race in more than three years. For 23-year-old Mike, the strong finish was validation after the brotherly tandem fell short of qualifying for the doubles race at the first World Cup event of the 2005-06 season, held two weeks ago in Sigulda, Latvia.
"We were sliding good runs all along in training before that race, but we were just not prepared for the ice conditions in Sigulda," said Mike, who posted a 12th-place finish at the 2002 Winter Olympics with then doubles partner Grant Albrecht. "It was disappointing to not compete there, but today's result was a big step and shows everything is coming together. When we first arrived at the track here in Italy 10 days ago, they barely had ice on it. But today it was bang-on and gave us a good taste of what to expect at the Olympics."
The sixth-place result equalled Mike's previous best finish on the World Cup circuit from a 2001 race in Altenberg, Germany, and came close to matching Chris's previous best fourth-place finish.
"It was a stellar performance. They just had a really solid day," said Walter Corey, head coach of the Canadian Luge Team.
Meanwhile, the Moffats' former sliding partners, Albrecht and Pothier, teamed up for a 12th-place finish after sliding to a two-heat total of 1:34.84.
Leading the field in men's doubles were Olympic champions Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch of Germany, who won their 21st gold medal on the Veissmann Luge World Cup circuit. The duo, winners of three world championships, set track records in both heats en route to a two-run time of 1:33.68 seconds. Their fellow countrymen Andre Florschutz and Torsten Wustlich claimed the silver in 1:34.02, while Austria's Tobias and Markus Schiegl clocked in for the bronze with a mark of 1:34.09. In women's singles action on Saturday, Canada's Regan Lauscher moved up four places from her 15th-place finish in Sigulda to post an 11th-place result in Cesana Pariol. The 25-year-old native of Red Deer, Alta. sailed down the new Olympic track in times of 47.90 and 48.04 for a two-heat combined total of 1:35.94.
"Going into this competition, it was tough to gauge exactly where everybody stood because it was the first race here ever," said Lauscher, who entered the history books last season as Canada's first ever silver medallist at a World Cup luge event. "I carried my speed throughout the bottom half of the track well, but a few small mistakes up at the top put me back a bit. With the girls that were ahead of me, I know I can go just as fast or maybe faster than them. With a few adjustments, I'm definitely hopeful to continue improving."
Lauscher was joined in the top-20 finishers by teammate Meaghan Simister, who finished 17th out of the 23 sleds entered. Simister, a 19-year-old native of Regina, navigated the Olympic track in a two-run combined time of 1:36.20. The German contingent continued its stranglehold on the medal podium in women's singles, with world champion Sylke Otto celebrating her 35th career World Cup victory after posting a two-run combined time of 1:34.81. Snagging the silver with a time of 1:35.04 was Tatjana Hufner, while Silke Kraushaar won bronze after recording 1:35.35.
The Viessmann Luge World Cup continues on Sunday with men's singles where Canada's Jeff Christie will look to improve on his 17th-place finish in Sigulda.
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.
Men's Doubles Top-Five Results: (16 sleds)
1.Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch, GER, 1:33.68; 2. Andre Florschutz and Torsten Wustlich, GER, 1:34.02; 3. Tobias and Markus Schiegl, AUT, 1:34.09; 4. Christian Oberstolz and Patric Gruber, ITA, 1:34.19; 5. Preston Griffal and Dan Joye, USA, 1:34.27.
Canadian Men's Doubles Results:
6.Chris and Mike Moffat, Calgary, 1:34.28; 12. Grant Albrecht, Red Deer, Alta., and Eric Pothier, Airdrie, Alta, 1:34.84.
Women's Top-Five Results: (23 Sleds)
1.Sylke Otto, GER, 1:34.81; 2. Tatjana Hufner, GER, 1:35.04; 3. Silke Kraushaar, GER, 1:35.35; 4. Anastasia Oberstolz-Antonova, ITA, 1:35.37; 5. Courtney Zablocki, USA, 1:35.54.
Canadian Women's Results:
11.Regan Lauscher, Red Deer, Alta., 1:35.94; 17. Meaghan Simister, Regina, 1:36.20; 21. Alex Gough, Calgary, 1:36.64.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
CODA, Communications Specialist