Olympians Sam Edney and Alex Gough prepare to luge in 2010 Gameswww.thefreepress.ca
By Angela Treharne
Two Olympic athletes who credit Fernie for igniting their passions for winter sports are Alex Gough and Sam Edney. They will be competing with the Canadian Luge team at the Olympics next month.
Alex, 22, is from Calgary but spent every weekend skiing in Fernie Alpine Ski Team when she was growing up. Her parents heard about the sport through teammate Sam Edneys parents, and signed her up to do a luge camp at Canada Olympic Park when she was 13.
As soon as I did my first run I was hooked, she said. Its just the speed, the rush, its addictive. It is a lot of fun and is totally different to any other sport you can do.
Alex will be heading to Whistler on February 4 to compete in her second Olympic games.
She represented Canada at the 2006 Games in Torino where she was competing against athletes nearly twice her age at 18.
During the 2008-09 campaign Alex captured seven top-10 finishes, making her a big hope for a medal in these Olympic games.
I am really excited to take part in the Olympics, she said. When I competed at Turino I was only 18 and new to competing. I am really looking forward to racing at home and seeing what I can do now I am more experienced.
Alex, who is currently competing in World Cup events in Oberhof, Germany, was in seventh spot after the opening run, but fell back to 12th place after clocking a two-run time of 1:27.346.
Outside of Luge, Alex enjoys skiing, scuba diving, water sports, rock climbing, hiking and playing the guitar.
Sam, 25, is also from Calgary but his family bought a house in Fernie in 1991 so he has been skiing here every winter ever since. He calls Fernie his second, winter home and is hoping to get back to the mountain after the Olympics.
I was actually just in Fernie for Christmas and I try to get there whenever I can, he said. Its like my little escape.
Sam started out as a ski racer at Lake Louise, but competing in the sport became too expensive.
His phys. ed. teacher told him about luge and he thought it sounded like fun. I went along to the Learn to Luge camp when I was 14 and I got really into it, he said. I was invited back for a more intensive camp and had so much fun I joined the Calgary Luge Club.
Like Alex, Sam is also getting ready for his second Olympic games after competing in Torino in 2006. He has continued to post his best-ever World Cup results each season since then. Sam's personal best performances include two 12th-place finishes at a World Cup in Whistler, B.C. last year (and Calgary in 2008), and a ninth-place finish at the World Championships in Germany in 2008.
He said luge is one of the most exhilarating experiences a person can have.
Its all about the speed, he said. We can reach around 150 kms an hour, and thats quite a rush. The other big thing for me is the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures, as well as being able to represent Canada.
The Olympics gives me the chance to race in my backyard. What could be better than that? Its a unique experience for any athlete and I am so excited about it. It will be the greatest and proudest moment of my life.
During his time off the ice, Sam enjoys road cycling, skiing, golf and mountain biking.
He just finished competing in the World Cup event in Winterberg, Germany, where he finished in 24th place on Dec. 10.