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CANADIAN LUGE WOMEN SLIDE INTO TOP-15 AT WORLD CUP IN SIGULDA

Meaghan Simister ties track start record while tying teammate Alex Gough in 15th spotCanada's Meaghan Simister and Alex Gough continue to make strides against the world's best luge athletes when they finished tied for 15th spot at a World Cup in Sigulda, Latvia on Saturday.

We are definitely heading in the right direction, but continue to make small mistakes, said Wolfgang Staudinger, head coach, Canadian Luge Team, who was recruited from Germany two years ago to lead the Canucks to its first Olympic luge medal. The good thing is now we know it is possible, and the international world is taking notice that the Canadians are improving.

One Canadian who is definitely riding a steady development curve is Calgary's 22-year-old Meaghan Simister. One of the most explosive starters on the World Cup, Simister tied the start record on the Sigulda track Saturday at 1.799 seconds en route to her second straight 15th-place finish with a time of one minute 26.652 seconds.

It was a horrible week for me because I crashed two times in training so I was very nervous heading into the race today, said Simister, who finished ninth at last year's World Championships. You race the way you train and I made some bad mistakes on the same part of the track that I crashed on earlier in the week.

Another strong opening run, Simister continues to search for consistency and admits she is maturing as an athlete under Wolfgang Staudinger's tutelage.

The run volume I had last spring and this fall in Whistler and Calgary has done so much good for me, said Simister. I'm getting more comfortable with the entire World Cup environment, but still need to put down two consistent runs. The positive is that I know what my mistakes are and what I need to do to fix them.

Locked in at 15th spot with Simister was 21-year-old Alex Gough, who is making her return to the World Cup circuit after a year off with a leg injury.

It was a pretty good day, but I rant into some problems on my first run, said Gough, of Calgary, whose top finish on the World Cup is an 11th-place result on her home track. My goal is to continue trying to break into the top-15 and then get closer to the top-10, but I have to be realistic.

Tatjana Hüfner won her second consecutive World Cup, and the 83rd straight race for the Germany women with a time of 1:26.452. Natalia Yakushenko, of the Ukraine, was second at 1:26.472, while Germany's Anke Wischnewski was third (1:26.643).

The Canadian men will hit the start line on Sunday in Sigulda.

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
Women's Top-Five Results:
1.Tatjun Hüfner, GER, 1:26.452; 2. Natalia Yakushenko, UKR, 1:26.472; 3. Anke Wischnewski, GER, 1:26.643; 4. Natalie Geisenberger, GER, 1:26.682; 5. Nina Reithmayer, AUT, 1:26.780.

Canadian Results:
T15. Meaghan Simister, Calgary, 1:26.652; T15. Alex Gough, Calgary, 1:26.652

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