Tough sledding for Canadian luge racersBy Scott Cruickshank, Canwest News Service
February 14, 2009
CALGARY — Regan Lauscher arrived at the finish line, red-nosed and hot under the collar.
The Red Deer, Alta., native was not pleased by her 12th-place finish in Viessmann Luge World Cup womens action Friday at Canada Olympic Park.
Because, Lauscher said, it is not only a cold shes fighting.
Its definitely frustrating to feel like youve been doing your job, Lauscher said between hacking coughs. Equipment, obviously, plays a very big role in this sport. All the physical training in the world, all the strength in the world, if you dont have what you need under your ass. . . the clocks not going to be in your favour.
Hopefully, they start fixing things.
Lauscher, who declined to get into specifics, was asked point blank if perhaps Alex Gough — the Calgarian who finished fourth at the recent world luge championships — was getting more than her fair share of attention.
Rightfully so, shes been having some really great races, said Lauscher. Its obviously that elusive marriage between sledder and sled . . . that theyve found for her. I hope — not just for me, but for the whole team — that we figure out everything.
It shouldnt just be one slider out on the hill going fast.
Lauscher did admit that this years late start — off-season surgery on both shoulders kept her from racing till last month — is hampering her, too.
By no means do I think that I am where I need to be physically, said the two-time Olympian. I understand . . . it takes time, but I feel that given my start time and my sliding today, this (12th) place isnt fair.
Canadian coach Wolfgang Staudinger acknowledged that none of the sleds had been set up properly. They were geared for smooth ice, but snow fell Friday night.
Snowfall handicapped us a little bit, Staudinger said. Maybe a little bit my mistake because . . . we couldve done possibly a little better.
As far as Lauschers pointed criticism? Chalk it up to the anxiety of a veteran desperate to regain her form — with the 2010 Olympics a year away.
I can understand the frustration that Regan goes through, said Staudinger. The reason we left her behind in the fall was exactly for that reason — shes coming back from a bad shoulder injury. We knew that, and I think she maybe thought that she could overcome that handicap a little easier. About the sleds, all I can tell you is that we do the same for everybody else.
Were not purposely slowing anybody down. We make sure that everybodys on the same setup. Like in skiing, Im sure everybody involved wants to make their athletes go as fast as possible. Her handicap is still the injury.
Meanwhile, the German women finally ended their slump — all one week of it.
After seeing their 99-race win streak stopped last weekend at the world championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., they quickly got back on pace.
Prevailing Friday was Tatjana Hufner, followed by teammate Natalie Geisenberger.
Third went to Austrias Veronika Halder.
Gough, 21, wound up in the sixth slot — a World Cup personal best that Staudinger heartily applauded.
Shes cool. Shes doing it, he said. Im very happy. Overall, I can say — and see — that shes establishing herself consistently, not only in the top 10, but slowly into the top six. An excellent sign to see for me. It makes me extremely happy that I have one athlete that is able to do that.
Rounding out the Canadian contingent were Meaghan Simister in 18th and Kimberley McRae in 20th.
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