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CANADIAN LUGE ASSOCIATION SUBMITS OLYMPIC TEAM TO CANADIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

Combination of veteran leadership and youth poised to shock the world in WhistlerCALGARY—A potent mix of youthful enthusiasm and veteran leadership will carry the Canadian flag onto the icy luge track at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, with the Canadian Luge Association naming 10 athletes eligible to be officially named to the Canadian Olympic squad that will compete in front of its home crowd in Whistler, B.C. on Saturday.

Three men, three women and two doubles teams will wear the maple leaf in Whistler to fill Canadas Olympic quota in luge. A total of eight Olympians  including two-time Olympians Chris and Mike Moffat, and Regan Lauscher  will return for their third trip to the largest sporting spectacle in the world.

For the first time ever we are naming a team of athletes that nearly all have Olympic experience, and that is a significant competitive advantage in fielding a team that is ready to challenge for the podium, said Tim Farstad, executive director, Canadian Luge Association. For many of our team members, Torino was their first Olympic Games, and we built on that experience over the last four years where we now feel fully prepared, and ready to pose a threat for Canadas first-ever Olympic medal in the sport.

Calgarys Alex Gough along with Regan Lauscher, of Red Deer, Alta., and Meaghan Simister will headline a dynamic womens team that combine veteran savvy and explosive power out of the start handles.

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. Gough also finished a career-best fourth at a recent World Cup in Austria last month. 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. 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. Simister matched her career-best World Cup performance in December when she was 10th.

Calgarys Sam Edney will make his second trip to the Olympic dance. The 25-year-old Edney has emerged as the new leader of the mens team after putting down some of the fastest runs on the World Cup early this year, which has led him to a career-best fifth-place World Cup finish. Edneys 2006 Olympic teammates will also join him on Canadas west coast. Jeff Christie, who continues to advance his way closer to the podium, will also wear the maple leaf. 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 two years ago. Calgarys Ian Cockerline, also 25, recently qualified for another crack at the Olympic mens singles race after a hard-fought race-off at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

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 have qualified for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games after posting stellar results in their rookie season on the World Cup this year. Tristan Walker, of Cochrane, Alta., and Calgarys Justin Snith, who regularly found themselves on the podium on the top international junior luge circuit last year, will be the lone rookies on the 2010 Olympic Team for Canada.
The last time the Olympics were hosted in North America in 2002, our team posted its best ever Olympic results, and since then we have been slowly edging our way towards being a regular contender with the worlds elite athletes, said Tim Farstad, who added the team has won a gold and bronze medal in the World Cup team relay competition this year. This is now a team of veteran athletes who knows what it takes to medal. Through Own the Podium and our partners, we have delivered the resources they require to challenge the best, and our results of late have shown that we are no longer here just to show up and put on the suit  we want to be on the Olympic podium.

The athletes were named eligible to compete for the Canadian Olympic Team while participating in a fashion show at an HBC store in downtown Calgary on the final Saturday of holiday shopping before Christmas. Athletes modeled the HBC Olympic clothing line on a runway through the store aisles when their name was called to the team.

Head coach Wolfgang Staudinger, who was recruited in 2007 to guide the Canadian troops from Germany thanks to funds supplied by Own the Podium, will continue to guide the Canadian squad in its journey towards winning Canadas first-ever Olympic luge medal.

An accomplished athlete, who captured an Olympic bronze medal in 1988 to go along with numerous World Cup and World Championship podium finishes during his illustrious career, Staudinger has instructed many of the top German sliders to Olympic, World Championship and World Cup medals. Staudinger, who began his coaching career in Canada (1988-1992), has also coached in the United States (1993) and has been with the German program since 1996.

Staudinger will be joined by assistant coaches, and fellow Germans, Steffen Skell and Robert Fegg.

Canadas Olympic luge athletes will head to Germany on December 26, 2009 where they will compete in the final three World Cup races before returning to Canada for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

The Olympic mens singles race takes place February 13-14; the women will hit the track February 15-16; while the mens doubles race will be held February 17.

For more information on the Canadian Luge Association, please visit us at www.luge.ca on the Internet.

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