CANADIAN LUGE ASSOCIATION AND OWN THE PODIUM 2010 DELIVER WORLD-LEADING COACHES TO CANADIAN ATHLETES
Wolfgang Staudinger will guide the senior team as head coach until 2014. An accomplished athlete, who captured an Olympic bronze medal in 1988 to go along with numerous World Cup and World Championship podium finishes during his illustrious career, Staudinger has instructed many of the top German sliders to Olympic, World Championship and World Cup medals. Staudinger, who began his coaching career in Canada (1988-1992), has also coached in the United States (1993) and has been with the German program since 1996.
Steffen Skell has also been recruited from the German program where he accumulated nearly two decades of experience on the strongest luge team in the world as an athlete, coach and trainer. A three-time Olympic doubles athlete, who retired in 2005, Skell has spent the last two years helping coach several high-performance German doubles teams.
Walter Corey, who has guided the Canadian Luge Team since 2003, has been promoted to high-performance director. In his new role, Corey will be tasked with implementing a long-term athlete development and coaching model, while supervising the national program and working closely with athletes and coaches. Corey will also be the primary liaison with the Canadian Luge Association's sport partners. Robert Fegg, who is also a retired successful German luge athlete, will continue to work with Staudinger and Skell. Fegg, who relocated to Calgary in 2002 to assist Walter Corey with coaching duties, attended the 2006 Olympics with the Canadian team.
"Walter has guided this program over the last four years to new levels where I am now proud to say that Canadian luge athletes are consistently breaking into the top-10, and regularly knocking on the door of the international podium at all levels," said Tim Farstad, executive director, Canadian Luge Association. "But more work needs to be done to close the gap between where we stand today and reaching our goal of climbing onto the podium with the leading nations in our sport. With Wolfgang and Steffen's knowledge and experience of coaching the top program in the world, along with the support of Own the Podium 2010, it is a leap we are now fully committed and ready to take."
Staudinger's short-term goal is to bring consistency to the team and establish a baseline on the equipment side, beginning with adopting some of the technology knowledge into the Canadian program that has made teams like the Germans so dominant in the sport.
"I am not here to reinvent the wheel, but to build on the programs we already have in place," said Staudinger during a media conference in Calgary to announce the new-look Canadian luge squad. "We've made some small changes to our training that are mostly unknown to luge athletes around the world that I believe will give us an advantage. As a coaching staff, we are going to deliver a high level of consistent instruction. We are not going to create miracles, but I'm confident we'll get to the top as a group and win more medals for Canada. It's going to be a great ride and exciting challenge."
After first joining the team in July for a summer training camp, Staudinger noted the Canadian luge athletes' athletic preparation is equal to, or better, than the Germans, the team was enthusiastic to learn, work harder and get faster.
Under the restructured coaching staff, the Canadian Luge Association will suit up three men, two women and two doubles teams for World Cup action this season, which kicks off in Lake Placid, N.Y., November 11-17, 2007.
The women's team will be led by 27-year-old Regan Lauscher, who won Canada's first ever World Cup silver medal, and finished 10th at the Torino Olympics. Lauscher will be joined by Regina's 20-year-old Meaghan Simister, who continues to put down some of the fastest starts on tracks around the world.
Calgary's Jeff Christie, who enjoyed a breakthrough season last year, will once again lead the men's contingent. Building off the experience gained from his first trip to the Olympic Winter Games in 2006, the 24-year-old Christie completed the World Cup season with four top-10 finishes in eight races, including a sixth-place finish on his home track in Calgary. Christie's 23-year-old Olympic comrades from Calgary, Sam Edney and Ian Cockerline, will round out the men's team.
Canada will field two competitive and veteran sleds in men's doubles races once again this year. Leading the charge for the Canadian doubles team are Calgary brothers Chris and Mike Moffat. The sibling duo, who finished ninth at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, continued to threaten for their first podium performance last season. Eric Pothier, 28, a native of Airdrie, Alta., will also continue to chase his first World Cup medal with 26-year-old doubles partner, Grant Albrecht.
The Canadian Luge Team, who joined forces to finish second in the overall World Cup team competition last year, will be competing on their home track for the 2007 Viessmann Luge World Cup, November 19-24, 2007.
For more information on Own the Podium 2010, please visit us at www.ownthepodium2010.com on the Internet.
For more information on the Canadian Luge Association, please visit us at www.luge.ca on the Internet.