Luge Canada

Gough wins second luge bronze of the season

By Vicki Hall, Calgary Herald

Alex Gough can speak rudimentary German - hello, goodbye, thank you, can I please have a coffee - but not much more than the basics.

Regardless, the Calgarian made a massive statement to the German luge community Friday with her second trip to the World Cup podium in three weeks. This time, she captured bronze in Park City, Utah, with her mom, dad, two uncles, an aunt, and little brother at the finish line.

After winning bronze earlier this month in Winterberg, Germany, Gough is the first Canadian to ever win more than one World Cup medal in the sport.

And she's only 23.

"It's an honour," Gough said via cellphone. "I want to keep going and keep pushing. It's such a great thing for our program to see this happen. This is just a great confirmation and affirmation of everything that's happened in our program the last four years."

The biggest thing to happen to the program over the last four years is the hiring of head coach Wolfgang Staudinger. Hey, if you can't beat the Germans, might as well lure one of them to the other side to teach the Canadians his secrets.

It happens all the time in reverse with Canadian hockey and curling coaches passing on their expertise to countries with fledgling winter sports programs.

To Staudinger, Gough's success is a sign that Canadian luge is on track. At last.

"We put a new system in place." Staudinger said. "I had to make some alternations. It's a similar system to Germany. We changed a whole bunch of things, and that system is starting to grab now."

The Germans have clearly taken note of the Canadian in their midst, but they're not about to panic. On Friday, Olympic gold medallist Tatjana Huefner won gold and fellow German Anke Wischnewski got silver.

Although it's hard to believe, Germany has won the last 102 women's World Cup events in luge. In a bid to halt that streak, the Canadians hired Bernhard Glass, an Olympic gold medallist for East Germany in 1980, in the off-season to bolster this country's chances.

Gough, for one, says the game plan is working.

"We have the German mentality and German system in our program," she said. "We're trying to get in there and beat them."

As usual, Huefner obliterated the competition with a time of one minute, 27.075 seconds over two runs. Wischnewski came in at 1:27.159.

Gough sailed to third in 1:27.346.

"The potential is there for her to climb even higher," Staudinger said. "We still have to do more work on her athletics and sliding. Huefner starts a little quicker, and she wins at the start. So yes, we can eventually see her moving up. We still have to work a little more. She's not quite ready yet."

Regan Lauscher (silver, 2004), Marie Claude Doyen (bronze, 1984), and Tyler Seitz (bronze, 2002) are the only other Canadians to have ever won World Cup medals in luge.


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