Luge Canada

Where are they now: Marie-Claude Doyon

By Dave Gross, Canwest News Service
November 19, 2009

For someone who holds a Canadian record, Marie-Claude Doyon would be anything but displeased to see it wiped out.

The Calgary resident set a Canadian mark at the 1988 Winter Games - in her adopted hometown - when she placed seventh in the women's luge singles event.

That seventh-place finish stands as the best showing by a Canadian female luge athlete at the Olympic Games.

``I keep bugging my husband about it, are you finally going to get a girl (to break the record)?' she said with a laugh.

``It's long overdue and quite frankly I don't think my record is going to hold this time. I think my husband has got those girls ready. It's about time.'

Doyon's husband will have something to do with it, if the record tumbles at the Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C., in February.

Wolfgang Staudinger is the coach of the Canadian luge team.

``I think they're going to do well. Really well,' said Doyon, who works in administration these days at the University of Calgary. ``You need a little luck on that specific day and everything has to go perfect. You have to have the perfect run because let's face it, the Germans are really strong and they don't make many mistakes. Everything is possible, but it is tough out there.'

Staudinger also knows a thing or two about the strength of the German contingent.

At the 1988 Games, he and Thomas Schwab won the bronze medal for West Germany in the men's doubles event.

Five years prior to the medal, Staudinger met Doyon while competing on the luge circuit.

``I was with the Canadian team at the time and he was with the West Germans. We had this kind of ongoing romance. . . . In the (Calgary) Olympics we were still together,' Doyon remembered.

And for Doyon's seventh-place run, Staudinger was one of the more interested onlookers in the vocal crowd.

``He was more nervous than I was. I know you guys might be nervous, but you don't show it,' she said with a laugh. ``It looked like he was under control, but afterwards he told me he was a bit nervous.'

``He's a very good support. For me he was a very big help because of his knowledge of the sport, and he raced in Sarajevo (1984 Olympics) so he knew what to expect from the Games, so he had some input and advice. It was great to have him around for sure.'

``The crowd really carries you. They're loud, and it's like: Just go! It's very nice to have that backing,' Doyon said, recalling the Calgary fan base. ``You feel that energy and you're in it. For me it was really, really positive. Everyone is supportive and they were all there for me - family and people I didn't know. Being at the Olympics is one thing but being at home carries you even higher.'

Even though she still holds the Canadian mark, Doyon is reticent about giving her husband any advice heading toward the upcoming Games.

``Not at all. The sport has completely changed. The way teams are functioning is totally different from how we functioned. The technology, the sleds and the tracks (have all changed).'