Canada's Regan Lauscher on top of her game heading into 2006 Olympic Winter Games
-Veteran luge athlete captures b
"It was a little bit of dj vu," said the happy slider, who claimed the same honour last season, along with Canada's first ever World Cup silver medal in luge competition. "It's always a gamble who's going to pull it out with how close all of the competitors are, but my sliding went really well during the race."
The Challenge Cup, which pits the top 12 female competitors, top 16 male competitors and the top 10 doubles teams against each other in a knockout format, boasts more than just bragging rights and medals to light the competitive fire of the world's top high-performance luge athletes. Along with her trophy case, Lauscher's wallet also grew courtesy of her bronze medal win, which earned her a cash injection of 600 Euros - not bad for a day's work on the icy luge track, she said.
"That's always a good chunk of change for two 40-second runs," chuckled the 25-year-old native of Red Deer, Alta. More importantly, Lauscher added, her strong finish resoundingly demonstrated she's right in the thick of podium contention with the world's elite luge athletes - and, along the way, helped to purge the distractions from what amounted to a tough month of December for the 2002 Olympian.
In a highly controversial ruling, Lauscher was disqualified on a technicality during World Cup competition in Calgary on December 9, 2005 - a colossal disappointment considering she'd clocked the fourth-best time among female competitors. One week later, she joined the Canadian Luge Team in Lake Placid for the next stop on the 2005-06 World Cup tour, and admittedly struggled in a race plagued by heavy snowfall.
However, with Friday's bronze medal victory under her belt and the seventh installment of the Viessmann World Cup series going Sunday, Lauscher is confidently sledding into her Olympic return for when the torch is lit next month to begin the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy.
"My runs on the track weren't perfect today, but they were fast enough to compete with the best in the world," said Lauscher. "It sort of reminded me why I'm here, and that's to step on the podium again. It's always nice to have a medal around your neck to know you have just as good of a chance as anyone out there. I think today, and this week, was the first time I felt really excited for Torino.
"I have a rested mind and a rested soul," she added. "I was able to get away and regroup after the distractions from last month, and I feel great going into the Olympics. I can't wait."
Taking top spot on the podium in the women's event of the Challenge Cup was German Olympic champion Sylke Otto, while Latvia's Anna Orlowa sledded to the silver medal.
Lauscher returns to World Cup action on Sunday in Igls. The seventh installment of the Viessmann Luge World Cup starts tomorrow with the men's singles event.
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-Three Results, Challenge Cup
1.Sylke Otto, GER; 2. Anna Orlowa, LAT; 3. Regan Lauscher, Red Deer, Alta., CAN.
Men's Top-Three Results, Challenge Cup:
1. Armin Zoggeler, ITA; 2. David Moller, GER; 3. Reinhold Rainer, ITA.
Doubles Top-Three Results, Challenge Cup:
1. Patrick Gruber and Christian Oberstolz, ITA; 2. Gerhard Plankensteiner and Oswald Haselrieder, ITA; 3. Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch, GER.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
CODA, Communications Specialist