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Three Canadian Luge Athletes Crack Top-15 in World Cup Season Opener

Jeff Christie finishes 14th, Sam Edney and Meaghan Simister slide into 15th spotThe Canadian Luge Team put their intense summer training program to the test on Sunday when they matched their skill against the world's best athletes in the season-opening World Cup race in Igls, Austria.

When the sleds all crossed the line, it was apparent significant progress has been made. Each of the three Canadians, who all hail from Calgary, finished in the top-15. Jeff Christie was 14th with a time of one minute 38.573 seconds, while Sam Edney was 15th (1:38.575) in the men's race. Meaghan Simister, who was the lone Canuck in the women's race, finished 15th after clocking a two-run time of 1:20.968.

This was a tremendous improvement from where we ended last season and things look promising, said Wolfgang Staudinger, head coach, Canadian Luge Team. Our performance today was very solid, but we were beaten by warm weather and tough starting positions today. I know we are close to breaking into that top-six group.

The Canadian men, who were poised to crack the top-10 after the first run, were bitten by the warm weather which caused the track to frost up bumping them back a few spots in standings. With the Germans well ahead at the start, the frosty conditions made it difficult for anyone to make up time in the slow late-starting spots.

This wasn't a bad start especially for Igls, said 25-year-old Jeff Christie, who sat in ninth spot after the opening heat. The summer was all about working to improve our starts and we are closing in on the Germans. We have taken one step, but we need to take another step forward and continue working harder to get faster.

Christie has struggled on the Igls track in the past - an easier track on the World Cup - which leaves no margin for error. Not to mention a start ramp that has caused him fits throughout his career.

Canada's Meaghan Simister is willing to take on any start ramp around the world as she continues to post some of the fastest results out of gate. The 22-year-old was sitting in eighth spot after a strong opening run, but fell back into 15th spot after making some minor errors in her second run.

This was the first race of the year and I was able to get some of the bugs out, said Simister. I was happy with my first run, but I know consistency is the major thing I have to continue working on to get better. I was a little unlucky with the frost on the track, but I have to look on the bright side and the first run was good today.

The Germans dominated the season-opener in Austria, taking five of the six medals in singles racing.

Andi Langenhan won the gold medal in the men's race with a time of 1:37.977. He was joined on the podium by teammate, David Möller, in the silver medal position at 1:37.988, while Italy's Armin Zöggeler, was third at 1:38.172.

The powerful Germans swept the women's podium. Tatjan Hüfner posted a medal-winning time of 1:119.667, while Natalie Geisenberg was second (1:19.901), and Anke Wischnewski, was third (1:20.207).

The Canadian Luge Team now heads to Sigulda, Latvia for the second stop on the World Cup circuit, December 6-7, 2008.

The Canadian Luge Association is the governing body for luge racing in Canada. 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. Andi Langenhan, GER, 1:37.977; 2. David Möller, GER, 1:37.988; 3. Armin Zöggeler, ITA, 1:38.172; 4. Jan Eichorn, GER, 1:38.208; 5. Viktor Kneib, RUS, 1:38.308.
Canadian Results:
14. Jeff Christie, Calgary, 1:38.573; 15. Sam Edney, Calgary, 1:38.575

Women's Top-Five Results:
1.Tatjun Hüfner, GER, 1:19.667; 2. Natalie Geisenberger, GER, 1:19.901; 3. Anke Wischnewski, GER, 1:20.207; 4. Erin Hamilin, USA, 1:20.296; 5. Steffi Sieger, GER, 1:20.377.
Canadian Results:
15. Meaghan Simister, Calgary, 1:20.968

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