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Luge Team Brimming With Confidence

By TOM BRENNAN, CALGARY SUNIf it happens to her again, they will have to write a song.

Call it, um, Looking For Gloves in all the Wrong Places.

"I think they've put on some shades down the straightaways now," Canadian luger Regan Lauscher reports, laughing at the memory of last winter's World Cup at COP, when someone dropped a glove on the track during her run and she slid right over it.

"So, unless they take them down, I think we'll be OK. But I'll be watching."

We would love to segue into this by saying that only foreign objects on the track will be able to slow down Canada's lugers this season. That would be a stretch. However, it seems clear to veteran Tyler Seitz that this year's senior national squad, which left for Europe last night, is finally poised to make some serious noise.

"I think we have a great team and I think you'll see that this year," declared Seitz, a 24-year-old Calgarian and veteran of the 1998 Olympics.

"We have the world championships at home (Calgary hosting in February). Our doubles are doing great. I'm in the best shape of my life. Regan is definitely in the best shape of her life, she's really worked hard.

"(Grant Albrecht/Mike Moffat) are still juniors, but they are going fast. Big brother Moffat (Chris) and (Eric) Pothier are doing not too shabby either. They just broke the Canadian record.

"They're probably not bragging about it, maybe it doesn't seem like a big deal, but it is. It was held by (Bob Gasper and Clay Ives) and stood since '94. And I think this shows the kind of dedication we're seeing now."

As encouraged as he is by what he sees on the track, Seitz is just as high on what's being displayed away from it.

"There's a really great atmosphere on this team," he declares. "I've been doing this 12 years, I've seen a lot of people come and go, and we've never had this kind of chemistry. Everybody is friends on and off the ice. You see that very rarely. It's not easy when you're spending 24 hours a day together, for four to five months a year."

"It is a smaller team than last year," adds Lauscher, a 20-year-old from Red Deer and the lone senior woman, "and when teams are smaller, you have to talk to each other more and help each other more."

The senior squad, with Marie Luise Rainer back for a second season as head coach, also includes Jeff Christie and Kyle Connelly. It's a big year for all, not only with the worlds on their home track but with qualifying for Salt Lake Olympic spots continuing.

Both Seitz and Lauscher are close to that already, and Seitz believes the 10 kg he's trimmed from his body will go a long way towards pushing him over the top.

"I've never been so positive going into a season," he says. "I think consistency will be key for most us. No holding back, give it all we've got. Because I know we've got a lot to give."

After two weeks training in Germany, the Canucks have World Cups in Sigulda, Latvia, Oberhof, Germany and La Plagne, France.

Original>http:http://www.calgarysun.com/CalgarySports/cs.cs-11-08-0093.html">Original article in >http://www.calgarysun.com"> Calgary Sun

Copyright 2000 Calgary Sun and Tom Brennan