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JEFF CHRISTIE BLOWS INTO TOP-10 AT LUGE WORLD CUP IN GERMANY

Heavy winds create controversial day for elite luge athletes in Germany, race called after one runCanada’s Jeff Christie was literally blown into the top-10 after heavy winds plagued the Viessmann Luge World Cup in Altenberg, Germany on Sunday. When the race was finally cancelled after the opening run, the leader of the Canadian men’s team was in ninth spot.

The 23-year-old Calgary native, who now has racked up four top-10 finishes this season, pulled a reasonably fast start, but ran into some early troubles on corners four and five, and was unable to recover until mid-way down the track. Christie was able to regain control on corner nine, and finally crossed the finish line with a time of 55.386.

“I think considering the conditions and all the factors that went on today, I’m happy with my time and place,” said Christie. “In the past, I had the odd top-10, but now I do feel like this is a group where I deserve to be, and I believe I’ll be there each time I race. The next step is to get into the top-three each race, and I need to slide perfectly to do that. There is no room for error if you want to be on the podium.”

While Christie believes he is one of the fastest starters in the world, he knows this is another area he can improve on to help close in on his podium dream.

However, like every other winter sport in Europe this season, weather was the main story in Germany. Winter storms including winds reaching speeds up to 35 kilometres/hour, with gusts up to 70 kilometres, caused havoc and several protests for sliders around the world. The International Luge Federation is supposed to cancel races when wind speeds hit 20 kilometres for the safety of the athlete.

“It was a difficult day with so many distractions around the race outside of the track,” said Christie. “The race likely should have been called right away, but finally the right decision was made after the first run.”

Closing in on the podium, Christie has been the model of determination and commitment to the sport since joining the senior squad five years ago. Over the summer Christie dedicated himself to getting stronger, and working on a new system which is clearly paying off.

“I just think it is a sign that he is maturing,” said Walter Corey. “His sled is fast, and he’s now starting to be more aggressive, and using the curves to his advantage to help slingshot him and pick up speed.”

Olympic champion, Armin Zöggeler, of Italy continues to play ping pong between first and second spot each week on the World Cup with Germany’s David Möller. Zöggeler finished on top in front of the German crowd in Altenberg with a time of 54.683, while Möller hung on to the silver medal position at 54.867. Tony Benshoof, of the United States, may have posted the surprise result of the day after finishing in third spot (55.042).

Calgary’s Sam Edney was the only other Canadian in the field and finished 19th (56.253).

The Canadian team will now head back to Oberhof, Germany for a one-week training camp before competing in the World Championships in Igls, Austria, February 3-4, 2007.

The Canadian Luge Association 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.

Complete Results: www.fil-luge.org

Men’s Top-Five Results:
1. Armin Zöggeler, ITA, 54.683; 2. David Möller, GER, 54.867; 3. Tony Benshoof, USA, 55.042; 4. Tony Höhener, SUI, 55.045; 5. Jan Eichorn, GER, 55.130.

Canadian Results:
9. Jeff Christie, Calgary, 55.386; 19. Sam Edney, Calgary, 56.253.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Chris Dornan
Media and Public Relations
Canadian Luge Association
T: 403-470-9546

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