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Gough returns better

By IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

CALGARY -- With the benefit of hindsight, Alex Gough can now call it a lucky break.

Things were sliding along well for the Calgary luger last season when she busted up her ankle in training - at her home track no less.

The injury forced the 21-year-old to skip the entire World Cup campaign, but she didn't let it her slow her development because of the maturity it required to return.

Gough came out flying this year, finishing in the top 10 in four of five races before just missing the podium with a fourth last week in Lake Placid, N.Y.

It was the country's best-ever finish at the world luge championships, and she's riding that wave tonight at a World Cup race at Canada Olympic Park.

"This is so positive because it inspires confidence," said Gough. "If I just stick to my routines and focus on sliding, pulling good starts, then I can be there. That's how I'm going to approach it."

Men's and doubles competitions go tomorrow at COP, starting at 3 p.m.

Gough's record result has given the entire team a boost.

"When anybody on our team goes fast, that means our program is going in the right direction," said veteran slider Regan Lauscher.

"We realize what's possible ... that with teamwork and the help of coaches, if you put it together on the track, anything is possible."

With the Vancouver Olympics just a year out, Gough is hitting her stride at the right time.

But Gough doesn't put pressure on herself to perform. She calls herself a glider, which is what she has done best this season.

"Alex has had a breakthrough year," said luge team coach Walter Corey. "Without a doubt it's a surprise to see her string together the success she's had. She had results around the top-10 level but on tracks where she had good run volume."