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Olympics have no impact on luge teams preparations

By Rita Mingo, Calgary Herald
November 19, 2009

CALGARY — There is no escaping the keen eye of Wolfgang Staudinger, which means the Canadian national luge team will be under the head coachs personal microscope this weekend.

As the competitive season begins Friday with the Viessmann World Cup at Canada Olympic Park, Staudinger is as eager as his pupils to get this party started. The fact its an Olympic year, that doesnt alter preparations one bit.

I was quoted the other day saying that Brent Sutter from the Flames is doing the same thing, Staudinger said, a lot of habits, focusing on repetition and routine. We do the same thing.

It does not differ from any year, because the world championships are usually around the same time in February. We maintain the same routine and make racing a habit, so its not extraordinary. We do our job just like any other year.

How far the Canadians have progressed in training will be determined in the two-day, two-run affair.

Staudinger, the programs head coach since 2007, is happy to handicap the event from a Canadian team perspective.

On the ladies side, Regan Lauscher has been in the top six before, he began. Shes been handicapped in the past because of shoulder injuries, but shes back on track. Well see if she can recall her potential of top starts, which she could do in training. She is able to start quite fast, competitive with the Germans. If she can recall her potentials, then I expect top six from her any time. But, again, I just dont know. Thats what Im curious to see.

Lauscher concurred that her shoulder woes should not be a hindrance to her success this season.

Absolutely, she said. There is no pain and I feel better and stronger than I ever have. And hopefully, Ill only get stronger.

Its awesome, added Lauscher, of starting the season in Calgary. I love racing at home. To open here . . . hopefully that will build momentum for the team, we can make some personal bests, and build for the season.

Staudinger also likes Alex Goughs chances in the womens singles.

Alex Gough finished fourth last year in world championships and is always good for a top six, top eight result, he said. In her technical work, she improved quite a bit so shes one of the top four or five starters in the world. I dont know how shell bring that over from training to competition. In training, she has very good tendencies . . . but in a competition, its a different problem.

On the mens side, Staudinger pointed to veterans Jeff Christie, 26, and Sam Edney, 25.

They showed some very strong training results, he said. Id say possibly, if everything goes well, one top eight for sure.

In doubles, the Moffat brothers, Chris and Mike, the same thing. It was the first time this year with no injuries, so they could train for one year without dealing with that. Last year was just a bad year. Nothing you can do, if you get hit, you get hit, but with Moffat-Moffat, there are some good irons in the fire, so to speak, to see where they end up.

The doubles competition wont see world champions Gerhard Plankensteiner and Oswald Haselrieder of Italy because of a back injury to the former.

As far as the locals having any type of leg up because the track is in their country, Staudinger says that notion just doesnt play in luge.

Actually, Ive been asked many times about the Canadian home-field advantage and racing at home, he said. The top sliders in the world, it doesnt matter what track it is. Its like Formula One racers; they go to a new race track, they take a couple of laps and theyre right there. You just have to recall your skills in an instant and the top sliders in the world can do that. So theres no real advantage whatsoever.

Calgary Herald