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CANADIAN LUGE ASSOCIATION NAMES NEW-LOOK CROP OF ATHLETES TO WORLD CUP TEAM

Luge athletes recognize Whistler resident as honourary team member for act of good will A stronger, quicker and more flexible group of Canadian luge athletes, loaded with international experience, are anxious to hit the start line for the 2008-09 World Cup season.

The Canadian Luge Association named three men's singles, three women's singles and one doubles team of athletes that will wear the maple leaf on their slick Karbon race suits on the icy tracks around the world this year. The athletes were officially welcomed to the team at a media conference during international training week for luge at the Whistler Sliding Centre, site of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games - sliding sport competitions.

We are excited to have a unique group of athletes that have been making steady progress, and has demonstrated the ability to position Canada where we are now ready to push for a spot on the podium, said Walter Corey, high-performance director, Canadian Luge Association. While this team remains young compared to our World Cup rivals, they have had a taste for the podium and carry a significant amount of Olympic and major event experience with them on their sleds.

Calgary's Jeff Christie, who continues to advance his way closer to the podium, will lead the men's contingent. Now regularly sliding into the pack of 15 with the world's elite sliders, the 25-year-old posted five top-15 finishes in six races last year. Christie's 24-year-old Olympic and World Cup comrades from Calgary, Sam Edney and Ian Cockerline, will round out the men's team. Both athletes posted personal best results at the World Championships last season, with Edney finishing ninth and Cockerline 15th.

Regan Lauscher, of Red Deer, Alta., and Calgary's Meaghan Simister will headline a dynamic women's team that combine veteran savvy and explosive power out of the start handles. A two-time Olympian and Canada's only World Cup silver medallist in luge, the 28-year-old Lauscher begins the 2008 season on the comeback trail after having surgery on both of her shoulders during the off-season. Regina's 21-year-old Meaghan Simister is hungry to build on a ninth-place finish at last year's World Championships. Simister continues to put down some of the fastest starts on tracks around the world. Lauscher and Simister will welcome their Olympic teammate, Alex Gough of Calgary, who completes the women's squad.

Canada's hopes for a medal in doubles luge will rest on the shoulders of Chris and Mike Moffat. The brother tandem, and two-time Olympians, posted three top-10 results last year.

Wolfgang Staudinger will once again guide the senior team as head coach. Once taking over the coaching reigns of the Canadian Luge Team last year, Staudinger vowed he was not going to create miracles, but he would make changes to training during the summer months that will give Canadian athletes a competitive advantage.

After working with Staudinger in one of the hardest off-season training regimes of their career over the last seven months, the new-look Canadian Team arrived back to the track this fall with many athletes adding more than seven pounds of muscle to their bulky frames.

Athletes replaced runners with wheels to paddle their sleds while doing 100-metre sprints on an athletics track this summer. They also spent time paddling their way between goal lines of a community hockey rink. When not on their sleds, the team was put through a series of specially-designed weight circuit training and cardio workouts - all crafted to prepare their bodies to become more powerful and flexible for the start, and to sustain the towering speeds and g-forces sustained on the track.

I have always said champions are made in the summer, said Staudinger. The team worked extremely hard and we are definitely starting to show signs of improvement. We still have a ways to go, but I'm confident we'll get to the top as a group, and ultimately be in the hunt to win Canada a medal in 2010.

The bulked up Canadian Luge Team also named 30-year-old Whistler, B.C. resident, Thomas Chamberland, as a honourary member to its World Cup Team this year in recognition for an act of good will. Canada's elite athletes presented Chamberland with a national team Karbon clothing package.

Following a training session this fall, Chris Moffat's bag filled with equipment and valuable items fell off the back of the team's truck. Chamberland found the bag lying on the street in town, and returned it to the Whistler Sliding Centre.

Last spring our team was devastated when our rooms were broken into and two of the athlete's computers were stolen, said Tim Farstad, executive director, Canadian Luge Association, who added Vancouver-based Haywood Securities Inc. stepped forward to buy the athletes new computers at the time. We wanted to recognize Thomas for this nice gesture in returning these valuable items. It is acts like these that make the team feel at home with the support of the community, and contribute to giving us home track advantage. Thomas' small gesture represents how this team of athletes strives to represent Canada around the world, and it is fitting to make him a honourary member of our team.

The Canadian squad will begin their chase for the World Cup podium following international training week when they travel to Igls, Austria for the first race of the season, November 29-30, 2008. The team will complete its season with two World Cups in Canada - February 9-15 in Calgary and February 16-22 in Whistler, B.C.

For more information on the Canadian Luge Association, please visit us at www.luge.ca on the Internet.

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