Canada's Jeff Christie cements berth in 2006 Winter Olympics with top World Cup result of his career
"It's been a long time coming to get a top-five result and to do it now is great," said a jubilant Christie as friends, family and teammates mobbed him in celebration on the Canada Olympic Park finish dock. "I've always said if I put down two good runs and felt good during the race, that I'd be happy with the result."
And the 22-year old athlete indeed put down two good runs en route to finishing fifth overall out of the 31 sleds entered. Christie blazed down the familiar curves and straightaways of his home track in the first run for a time of 45.343 seconds - the second-best time achieved in the opening heat. He posted a mark of 45.465 on his second journey down the track, for a final tally of 1:30.808.
"It would've been nice to win a medal, but I'd be lying one-hundred per cent if I said I was disappointed by finishing fifth," said Christie, who was born in Vancouver but lived in Calgary for most of his life. "I think the second run was just as good as the first one. I felt more calm heading into the second run that I ever thought I would be."
The strong result has Christie sliding on a straight path to Torino. He pre-qualified for Olympic competition courtesy of a 17th place overall World Cup standing during the 2004-05 campaign, and needed one more top-eight finish to seal the deal. He also had company in the top-five at the conclusion of the first heat in teammate Sam Edney, who sat in fourth place after clocking in at 45.478 seconds. The 21-year-old Calgary native slid to a time of 45.56 in the second heat to ultimately finish with a time of 1:31.038 and 14th overall.
Although he was knocked out of the top-10 after the dust settled, Edney had plenty to be happy about after equaling his previous best World Cup result.
"This race actually gives me a full qualifier for the Olympic Games," he said. "One more good result will put me there. It's unbelievable, the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me."
Despite the controversy that riddled the women's race the previous day, both Christie and Edney agreed the fourth installment of the Viessmann World Cup proved the young Canadian squad is maturing into an international force to be reckoned with. Along with the impressive results posted by the men's singles duo, Calgary brothers Chris and Mike Moffat attained a sixth-place finish in doubles action Friday. Shortly thereafter, Red Deer, Alta. native Regan Lauscher posted the fourth-best result, if one that was ultimately disqualified on a technicality, in the disputed women's event.
"We've got to foster a winning attitude on this team," said Christie. "After this week, the whole team knows we can do it and compete with the best."
Snapping up the gold medal in men's singles action Saturday was reigning World Cup leader Albert Demtschenko of Russia, who bounced back after struggling in the first heat to post a total time of 1:30.468 to top the field. German luge great Georg Hackl, who won the first in his string of Olympic medals in 1988, continued to enjoy success on the Calgary track after scooping up the silver with a time of 1:30.619. Rounding out the top sleds was Hackl's fellow countryman David Moller, who recorded a bronze medal-winning time of 1:30.658.
The Canadian Luge team next travels south of the border to Lake Placid, New York, for the fifth stop on the World Cup tour. Races are slated for December 16 and 17.
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
Men's Singles Top-Five Results (31 sleds):
1.Alexander Demtschenko, RUS, 1:30.468; 2. Georg Hackl, GER, 1:30.619; 3. David Moller, GER, 1:30.658; 4. Markus Kleinheinz, AUT, 1:30.772; 5. Jeff Christie, CAN, 1:30.808.
Other Canadian Results:
14. Sam Edney, Calgary, 1:31.038; 27. Ian Cockerline, Calgary, 1:32.633.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
CODA, Communications Specialist