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Canadian luge athletes capture bronze medal at World Cup relay in Germany

Calgary Herald News Services
December 6, 2009

Canadas luge athletes continue to prove they can contend with the worlds best after winning a bronze medal in the team relay competition at a World Cup stop in Altenberg, Germany on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Meaghan Simister led the way for the Canadian women with a 10th-place finish in womens singles.

Canadas team consisting of Calgarys Alex Gough, Sam Edney and brother tandem of Chris and Mike Moffat, put the maple leaf on the podium for the second straight week after combining to post a time of two minutes 26.941 seconds. The trio of Canadian sleds teamed up to win the gold medal in the first relay of the season last weekend in Austria.

That was another exceptional performance by our team and shows us we are right up there with the best countries in the world, said Canaidan head coach Wolfgang Staudinger. Our sport believes this will be an Olympic race in the near future and people are taking it very seriously. It tells me we are on track and can compete for the podium when we are at our best.

The team competition consists of one female, one male and one doubles team, who each complete one run for a combined final time. In an effort to make the event more exciting for the teams and spectators, the FIL introduced the relay-type system that had the athletes hitting a pad at the finish, which in turn opens the gate at the start for the next team member. Strategy comes into play as the coaches communicate over radio to make sure the next athlete is ready to go.

The powerful German luge athletes finished on top of the podium with a time of 2:25.742, while the Americans were second at 2:26.680.

Earlier in the day, the Canadian women also participated in the World Cup singles race. Simister matched her career-best World Cup result with a 10th-place finish. One of the most explosive starters in the world, the 23-year-old put down her two most consistent runs of the year to post a combined time of 1:48.897.

That was a very solid performance by Meaghan with two really good starts and two good runs, said Staudinger of Simister who was unavailable for comment as the team was travelling. Meaghan has huge potential because she pulls starts like the World Champion and that is a tremendous advantage. We need to continue working on her sliding and that takes time and experience.

Simister, who had two 10th-place finishes last year, both at the Whistler Sliding Centre and in Oberhof, Germany, also finished ninth at the 2008 World Championships. Two other Canadian women also suited up on Sunday. Calgarys Alex Gough, who has emerged as a podium contender, struggled to find the appropriate steels for her sled to accommodate changing weather from cold to rain which cost her time on her first run. Gough finished 12th at 1:48.975. Regan Lauscher, of Red Deer, Alta., who continues to rebuild strength in her start after double shoulder-surgery, put down two solid runs to finish in 14th spot at 1:49.034.

The Germans dominated the World Cup womens event once again taking the top-four spots in the standings. Tatjana H├╝fner captured the gold medal with a time of 1:47.555, while Natalie Geisenberger was second at 1:47.744. Anke Wischnewski completed the podium sweep with a bronze-medal time of 1:47.994.

The Canadian Luge Team will now head home for a week of training at the Whistler Sliding Centre, culminating with the Canadian Championships on Dec. 17.