ALBERTA GOVERNMENT AND OWN THE PODIUM DELIVER WORLD-LEADING START FACILITY TO CANADIAN LUGE ATHLETES
With the past ramp inadequate for athletes to fully simulate the start on tracks around the world by completing the entire start sequence of pulling, paddling and settling on their sleds, the Canadian Luge Association worked with Own the Podium, the Alberta Government and funds supplied by the teams title sponsor, Fast Track Capital, to secure the $175,000 required to restore the existing facility in the Ice House, which was originally opened by WinSport Canada in 2001.
This new facility demonstrates the Alberta Government and Own the Podiums firm commitment to providing Canadian athletes with access to the facilities and opportunities required to foster excellence, and be the worlds best, said Tim Farstad, executive director, Canadian Luge Association. This start ramp is critical for developing world-leading performances by our athletes, and will help Canada continue to be a top winter-sport nation well beyond 2010.
The renovation added two metres of height, and 11 metres of distance before the existing start curve, allowing for perfect start practice, modeling many of the start ramps on the top tracks around the world. The longer distance is critical to increase the quality of paddle execution.
This is now a world-class facility that provides Canadian luge athletes with a competitive edge, said Jeff Christie, who is the leader of the mens team. The difference between finishing on or off the podium in our sport is determined by fractions of a second, so perfecting the start is crucial for podium performances. I fully applaud the Alberta Government and Own the Podium for giving us what we need to excel.
The official opening of the new start ramp came in conjunction with the Canadian Luge Association unveiling its largest-ever World Cup Team. The Canadian Luge Association named four mens singles, three womens singles and two doubles team of athletes that will wear the maple leaf on their slick Karbon race suits on the icy tracks around the world this year.
Calgarys Jeff Christie, who continues to advance his way closer to the podium, will lead the mens contingent. Now regularly sliding into the pack of 15 with the worlds elite sliders, the 26-year-old posted five top-15 finishes in six races last year. Christies 25-year-old Olympic and World Cup comrades from Calgary, Sam Edney and Ian Cockerline, will also return to the mens team, while newcomer Brendan Hauptman, of Kimberly, B.C., will make his World Cup debut. The 22-year-old Hauptman was introduced to the sport of luge as part of the Legacies Now recruitment camp eight years ago following Vancouver-Whistler being awarded the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Regan Lauscher, of Red Deer, Alta., along with Calgarys Alex Gough and Meaghan Simister will headline a dynamic womens team that combine veteran savvy and explosive power out of the start handles. A two-time Olympian and Canadas only World Cup silver medallist in luge, the 29-year-old Lauscher continues her comeback trail after having surgery on both of her shoulders last year. The 22-year-old Gough now forms a strong threat for the podium with the Canadian women after posting
Canadas best-ever finish at a World Championships in luge when she was fourth at Lake Placid, N.Y., last year. Meaghan Simister, 23, who continues to put down some of the fastest starts on tracks around the world while edging her way into the elusive top-10, rounds out the womens team.
Canadas hopes for a medal in doubles luge will rest on the shoulders of Chris and Mike Moffat. The brother tandem, and two-time Olympians, posted four top-10 results last year. The veteran savvy doubles team will be leading the way for two young Canucks who will also be making their debut on the World Cup this season. Calgarians, Tristan Walker and Justin Snith, who regularly found themselves on the podium on the top international junior luge circuit last year, will match their skills against the worlds best while striving to qualify to compete at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver-Whistler 2010.
We are excited to have a unique group of athletes that have been making steady progress, and has demonstrated the ability to position Canada where we are now ready to push for a spot on the podium, said Walter Corey, high-performance director, Canadian Luge Association. While this team remains young compared to our World Cup rivals, they have had a taste for the podium and carry a significant amount of Olympic and major event experience with them on their sleds.
The Canadian Team will begin its final track to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games by kicking off the World Cup season on their home track at Calgarys Canada Olympic Park, November 20-21, 2009. The mens doubles race will take place on November 20 at 6 p.m. The women hit the track on November 21 at 2:40 p.m., while mens singles will slide for gold on Saturday at 5:15 p.m.
For more information on the Canadian Luge Association, please visit us at www.luge.ca on the Internet.