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Canada's female luge athletes putting everything on the line as 2006 Winter Olympics near-Simister posts her best

Media AdvisoryNow that the lineup for Canada's Olympic Luge Team is finalized, 2002 Olympian Regan Lauscher has some female company for next month's trip to Torino, Italy, as well as for the unfinished business of the remaining races on the Viessmann Luge World Cup circuit.

"It's nice to have roommates for a change," chuckled Lauscher, 25, the lone female wearing the maple leaf on the icy track during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. "It gives the team a nice balance and it speaks volumes about our national program."

And one of Lauscher's sliding comrades on the Canadian women's Olympic contingent posted her personal best result of the 2005-06 campaign in World Cup action Friday, with 19-year-old Regina native Meaghan Simister sliding to a 14th-place finish.

"For me, it comes down to being consistent and being in a good position going into the race," said the talented youngster, who has posted the fastest start times in a number of World Cup races this season, a feat never previously achieved by a Canadian luge athlete. "I think this track presented an advantage for me because of my start."

Simister tallied times of 49.281 and 49.198 seconds on her first and second runs, respectively, for a two-run total of 1:38.479. Along with Lauscher and 18-year-old Calgary native Alex Gough, she was recently named to Canada's luge entry for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino.

"That was my goal, to make the Olympics," Simister added. "This is my first Olympics so I'm going in with the mindset of doing my best and putting down four clean runs. I'm looking forward to facing the challenge and getting more experience." Lauscher, who made history last season by capturing Canada's first ever World Cup silver medal in luge, welcomes the idea of having some roommates for the trip to Torino, Italy, next month.

"It keeps pushing me to challenge myself in terms of my skill," said Lauscher. "It shows the Canadian Luge Association has made a huge step forward in terms of recognizing that the development of the sport is critical."

Lauscher blazed down the Konigssee track in 49.167 and 49.079 seconds on Friday for a two-heat time of 1:38.246 and an 11th-place finish. The Red Deer, Alta. native sat in ninth place after the dust settled on the first heat, although a couple of mistakes at the top of the track during her second run bumped her down two positions.

"If I'd had a bit of a cleaner run in the second, I think I would've stayed in ninth and maybe moved up to eighth," said Lauscher. "It was a good, close race today. Right now, my focus is on just putting everything on the line to prepare for Torino."

In what has been a consistent theme of the critical 2005-06 campaign, the women's podium was again swept by German competitors during Friday's sliding action. Veteran Sylke Otto slid to her the gold medal in a two-run time of 1:36.888. She was joined in the top three by fellow Germans Tatjana Hufner, who took the silver with 1:36.984, and Silke Kraushaar, who wrapped up the bronze medal in a time of 1:37.036.

In doubles competition Friday, two pairs of 2002 Canadian Olympians continued their tune-ups for the main event next month in Torino. The tandem of Grant Albrecht, of Red Deer, Alta., and Eric Pothier, of Airdrie, Alta., posted a two-run combined time of 1:38.062 en route to a 12th-place finish on the day. They were closely followed in the final rankings by Calgary's sibling duo of Chris and Mike Moffat, who slid to a 13th-place result after clocking in at 1:38.195.

Germany's Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch posted the top time of the day, clocking in at 1:36.205 to claim the gold medal. They were joined on the podium by fellow countrymen Sebastian Schmidt and Andres Forker, who took the silver with a two-heat total of 1:36.307. Rounding out the top sleds was Austria's Andreas and Wolfgang Linger, the bronze medal winners in a time of 1:36.596.

The Veissmann Luge World Cup continues tomorrow in Konigssee with the men's singles race, during which Canadians Jeff Christie and Sam Edney will vie for podium finishes.

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.Sylke Otto, GER, 1:36.888; 2. Tatjana Hufner, GER 1:36.984; 3. Silke Kraushaar, GER, 1:37.036; 4. Barbara Niedernhuber, GER, 1:37.179; 5. Anastasia Oberstolz-Antonova, ITA, 1:37.689.

Canadian Women's Results:
11. Regan Lauscher, Red Deer, Alta., 1:38.246; 14. Meagan Simister, Regina, Sask., 1:38.479.

Doubles Top-Five Results (16 sleds):
1.Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch, GER, 1:36.205; 2. Sebastian Schmidt and Andre Forker, GER, 1:36.307; 3. Andreas and Wolfgang Linger, AUT, 1:36.596; 4. Andre Florschutz and Torsten Wustlich, GER, 1:36.717; 5. Tobias and Markus Schiegl, AUT, 1:36.992.

Canadian Doubles Results:
12. Grant Albrecht, Red Deer, Alta., and Eric Pothier, Airdrie, Alta., 1:38.062; 13. Chris and Mike Moffat, Calgary, 1:38.195.

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