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FOUR CANADIAN SLEDS FINISH IN TOP-15 IN FIRST LUGE WORLD CUP AT WHISLTER SLIDING CENTRE

Alex Gough leads Canadian women in seventh, Moffat Brothers finish ninth in mens doublesCanada posted all four of its sleds in the top-15 at the opening night of the 2009 FIL Luge World Cup at the Whistler Sliding Centre on Friday night.

Calgary's Alex Gough completed her breakthrough season with her seventh top-10 finish by clocking a seventh-place two-run time of one minute 39.157 seconds.

This is great for my confidence and shows that I can compete with the top women in the world, said Gough. The top women are clearly winning these races with their starts, and that is what I have to work on this summer to keep getting better.

Gough has made huge strides since returning to the World Cup squad this season after missing last year with a broken leg. The 21-year-old blonde bomber bolted to a career-best sixth-place World Cup finish last week in Calgary, and also posted the best-ever Canadian result at the World Championships two weeks ago when she finished fourth in Lake Placid, N.Y.

This has been a great year for me and shows me that I can do it, said Gough. I have gained a lot of confidence this season and now being so close to the podium, I am really hungry to get there. But I'm not getting ahead of myself and will be sure to work hard this summer.

Gough was joined in the women's race by her Canadian World Cup comrades, Meaghan Simister and Regan Lauscher.

Calgary's Simister, who sat in sixth-spot after the opening run, matched her career-best World Cup result by holding on to the final spot in the top-10 with a combined time of 1:39.405. Regan Lauscher, of Red Deer, Alta., finished in 13th spot to cap off a rebuilding season after having double-shoulder surgery this past summer. One day shy of her 29th birthday, Lauscher clocked a two-run time of 1:39.522.

The Germans dominated the women's race taking the top-four spots on the podium for the second straight week. Natalie Geisenberger finished on top with a time of 1:38.012, while Tatjana Hüfner settled for the silver medal at 1:38.369, and Anke Wischnewski squeaked into the bronze-medal position on the podium after stopping the clock at 1:38.612.

As dusk arrived at the 2010 Olympic sliding venue, the world's best doubles luge athletes fired down the 1,450-metre tracked under the lights.

Canada's brother tandem of Chris and Mike Moffat also slid into the top-10 with a ninth-place finish. The Calgarians, who joined forces in 2005 to form Canada's top doubles sled, finished with a two-run time of 1:38.062.

This is a test event for us and it tells us the work that needs to be done over the next year, said Mike Moffat, who added the difference between getting onto the podium is in the starts. It all starts at the top. These guys don't make mistakes so if you aren't fast at the start it is tough to make time up down the track. We missed the first half of the season with Chris' injury, but we are going to use the summer now to build our strength and do our best to be better this time next year when it counts.

Germany also stole the first two spots on the men's doubles podium. Andre Floschütz and Torsten Wustlich clocked a golden time of 1:37.584 in front of the sold out crowd of 3,000 people that lined the track of the Whistler Sliding Centre.

Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch, of Germany, settled for the silver medal at 1:37.624, while Austria's Linger brothers of Andreas and Wolfgang, grabbed the bronze (1:37.731).

The Canadian troops hope a last-minute effort to solidify a title sponsor will help them close the gap on the powerful Germans over the next year. Sliding with FOR SALE signs on their helmets over the last two World Cup races of the season, the Canadian Luge Association is searching for a title sponsor to support its national program.

The German government has been pumping millions of dollars into their program for years, and we have been so far behind, said Mike Moffat, who added providing financial support to the Canadian Luge Team is one of the most affordable options to supporting a national sport one year away from the biggest sporting event ever in Canada. We have been able to play catch up thanks to the great support from the Own the Podium program in Canada, and now hopefully a corporation will step forward and give us that final nudge we need to help close the gap.

The Canadian men's singles sleds will hit the start house in Whistler on Saturday at 5 p.m. PST.

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.Natalie Geisenberger, GER, 1:38.012; 2. Tatjana Hüfner, GER, 1:38.369; 3. Anke Wischnewski, GER, 1:38.612; 4. Steffi Sieger, GER, 1:38.709; 5. Erin Hamlin, USA, 1:39.031.

Canadian Results:
7. Alex Gough, Calgary, 1:39.157; 10. Meaghan Simister, Calgary, 1:39.405; 13. Regan Lauscher, Red Deer, Alta., 1:39.522

Men's Top-Five Results:
1. Andrew Florschütz/Torsten Wustlich, GER, 1:37.584; 2. Patric Leitner/Alexander Resch, GER, 1:37.624; 3. Andreas Linger/Wolfgang Linger, AUT, 1:37.731; 4. Gerhard Plankensteiner/Oswald Haselreider, ITA, 1:37.788; 5. Christian Oberstolz/Patrick Gruber, ITA, 1:37.797.

Canadian Results:
9. Chris and Mike Moffat, Calgary, 1:38.062

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