Controversy mars dominant performance by luge athlete Regan Lauscher on her home track
-Technicality at finish lin
A sponsorship sticker flew off Lauscher's helmet just before she crossed the finish line in the opening heat, prompting a disqualification ruling. Under the rules of the International Luge Federation, competitors must finish the race with all the gear intact that they started with.
The 25-year-old Red Deer native and 2002 Olympian was ultimately allowed to compete in the second heat while officials pondered a protest lodged by the Canadian team. She ultimately finished with the fourth-best time of the day before her results were ruled invalid shortly after the conclusion of the second heat.
"Rules are rules and I respect that," said a stoic Lauscher shortly after the decision was announced. "I didn't do anything that put my competitors at a disadvantage so, yes, in my opinion it was a bad call. We have sponsors and we need to show the little amount we can on our sleds. We race outside and it's cold, there's ice and we wax our sleds up, there's grease and things come off."
Despite the disappointment over her disqualification, Lauscher took heart from what amounted to one of the most stellar performances of her career. On her first, and ultimately ill-fated, trip down the track, Lauscher shattered the previous Canadian track record she attained in 2002 of 47.635 seconds, sliding to a time of 46.955. The result put her into the bronze medal position going into the second heat, where she again set a new Canadian benchmark with a time of 46.944.
"There was nothing I could do going into the second run," said Lauscher, who took her second trip down the track still unsure whether she would be disqualified or not. "I focused the best I could. I need to get back into that top-six to feel like I'm a competitor and I did that, regardless of the ruling."
Lauscher ended up attaining the fourth-best results of the competition, with an aggregate time of 1:33.899, a shade above the official fourth-place finisher, German luge veteran Sylke Otto, who slid to a combined time of 1:33.986.
"This doesn't affect my confidence. I slid well and I proved myself, and that's all that matters," added Lauscher.
The controversy marred an otherwise exciting two heats of women's luge racing, featuring strong performances by two Canadian teenagers and a number of international competitors.
Canuck newcomer Alex Gough proved she's a force to be reckoned with on the ice, with the 18-year-old Calgary native twice eclipsing the Canadian track record Lauscher set in 2002. The youngster recorded times of 47.277 and 47.119 seconds on her first and second journeys, respectively, down the Canada Olympic Park course. The impressive total of 1:34.396 delivered Gough just shy of the top-10 to finish 11th overall.
Lauscher's old mark of 47.635 also took a heavy beating by another teammate, 18-year-old Calgary native Madison Dupuis, who posted times of 47.339 and 47.321 for a total of 1:34.66 and a 14th-place finish out of the 23 sleds entered.
A strong contingent of German women, meanwhile, stomped the previous track record of 46.817 achieved by Otto in 2002, who herself set a new standard in her second run with a time of 46.543. Eclipsing Otto's 2002 mark were teammates Silke Kraushaar on her first run with 46.742; Tatjana Hufner on her second run with 46.738; and Barbara Neidernhuber on her first run with 46.764.
These strong performances ensured a German monopoly on the medal podium, with Kraushaar clocking in at a combined time of 1:33.613 for the gold. Hufner took silver with a time of 1:33.641, while Neidernhuber slid to bronze in a two-run time of 1:33.733.
The Veissmann Luge World Cup in Calgary continues tomorrow with men's singles competition.
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.
For complete results, see www.fil-luge.org
Women's Top-Five Results (23 sleds):
1.Silke Kraushaar, GER, 1:33.613; 2. Tatjana Hufner, GER, 1:33.641; 3. Barbara Niedernhuber, GER, 1:33.733; 4. Sylke Otto, GER, 1:33.986; 5. Liliya Ludan, UKR, 1:34.083.
11. Alex Gough, Calgary, 1:34.396; 14. Madison Dupuis, Calgary, 1:34.660; Regan Lauscher, Red Deer, Alta., DSQ.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
CODA, Communications Specialist