Canadian Luge Athletes Win Silver Medal in World Cup Team Competition
IGLS, Aut.—Canada’s high-flying luge team wasted no time in telling the world they are ready to challenge for the World Cup podium after winning the silver medal in the team competition at the season-opening event in Igls, Austria on Sunday.
The Canadian squad of Calgary’s Alex Gough, Sam Edney and 19-year-old doubles team of Tristan Walker, of Cochrane, Alta., and Calgary’s Justin Snith, proved they are one of the most consistent teams in the world after punching a medal-winning combined time of two minutes, 10.340 seconds (2:10.340).
“This is really great for our team. This event has become more important because now it is recognized as a World Cup event so it is lots of fun for us to race,” said Gough. “Canada has generally had three consistent sliders in each discipline which is the difference between finishing on or off the podium in the relay. For me, I was going for it yesterday and I made a small mistake which flipped me over and cost me, so having a really good run and a solid performance by our team makes up for it.”
The team competition, which is a one-run bomb race, consists of one female sled, one male sled and one doubles team sled, 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 International Luge Federation 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 as soon as the gate opens.
“This is a very important measuring stick for us because it demonstrates the overall performance of a nation, and we are always right in the hunt for the medals in the team event,” said Wolfgang Staudinger, who added the International Luge Federation has officially included the team format as part of the World Cup standings, and is optimistic the team format will be introduced into the 2014 Olympic lineup. “I put a lot of stake in measuring our split times in this event and see where we stack up. This result shows if we slide well we are capable of doing great things.”
Historically Canada has done well in the team format where they have regularly slid onto the podium. They won gold in the team format in Austria one year ago.
The high-powered Germans captured top spot on the podium on Sunday with a time of 2:09.519. Italy finished just behind the Canucks in third at 2:10.431.
It was a promising opening weekend for the new-look Canadian Luge Team with two World Cup rookies leading the way in women’s and men’s singles. On Sunday, it was the recently crowned Canadian Champion, Brendan Hauptman’s turn to match his talent against the top sliders in the world.
The 23-year-old Kimberly, B.C. native clocked the fastest two-run Canadian time of the day at 1:41.161, placing 14th.
“I really didn’t have a great week of training so this was a little unexpected for me,” said Hauptman, who was competing in just his sixth World Cup race ever. “My goal was to try and build off the success I had at Canadian Championships and stay close to my teammates, Sam and Jeff. It kind of exceeded from there and I’m pretty happy.”
Hauptman, who captured his first national title in just his second year of sliding on the senior squad, was recruited to the Canadian program as part of the 2010 Legacies Now initiative. Hauptman narrowly missed qualifying for the 2010 Olympic team after coming up short in a race-off against two-time Olympian, Ian Cockerline.
Two-time Olympians from Calgary, Sam Edney and Jeff Christie, also hit the start house in Austria. Edney finished in 17th spot at 1:41.290, while Christie was 22nd with a time of 1:41.506.
Olympic champion, Felix Loch of Germany, slid to the top of the podium with a time of 1:40.398. David Möller, also of Germany, was second at 1:40.444, while Italy’s Armin Zöggeler rounded out the men’s podium in third at 1:40.560.
The Canadian squad now travels to Winterberg, Germany for the second stop on the World Cup circuit.
The Canadian Luge Association is a not-for-profit organization governing the sport of luge across the country. With the financial backing of its title sponsor, Fast Track Capital, along with the support from the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee and Own the Podium, the Canadian Luge Association safely recruits and develops the nation’s current and future high-performance luge athletes with the goal of regularly climbing onto the international podium. For more information on the Canadian Luge Association, please visit us at www.luge.ca on the Internet.
COMPLETE RESULTS: www.fil-luge.org
Top-Five Team Competition Results;
1. Germany, 2:09.519; 2. Canada, 2:10.340; 3. Italy, 2:10.431; 4. Russia, 2:10.577; 5. Latvia, 2:10.677
Men’s Top-Five Results:
1. Felix Loch, GER, 1:40.398; 2. David Möller, GER, 1:40.444; 3. Armin Zöggeler, ITA, 1:40.560; 4. Reinhard Egger, AUT, 1:40.717; 5. Andi Langenhan, GER, 1:40.752.
14. Brendan Hauptman, Kimberly, B.C., 1:41.161; 17. Sam Edney, Calgary, 1:41.290; 22. Jeff Christie, Calgary, 1:41.506.