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Alex Gough Wins Third Bronze Medal of Season at Luge World Cup in Germany

Own the Podium, corporate support plays critical role in Canadian luge squads historic season

Canada’s Alex Gough began the New Year the way she parked 2010 – on the bronze medal position of the Luge World Cup podium. This time it was on the newly reconstructed track in Königssee, Germany.

The 23-year-old Gough returned to Germany, where she captured her first-ever World Cup medal in December, to win her third bronze medal in four races on the World Cup with a two-run time of one minute, 42.215 seconds.

“I had really good training runs this week and felt good coming into the race,” said Gough. “This track has a really flat start so the hard work I did on my starts this summer really paid off here today. It was great to get back on the podium.”

Outside of a seventh-place finish at the Calgary World Cup, the two-time Olympian from Calgary has been nearly perfect over the last month, sliding onto the podium at World Cups in Winterberg and Park City, Utah.

“I went into the season hoping that a podium would come,” added Gough. “Once it did, I experienced what it was like to be there and I also learned that I can be there. I know it is not going to happen every week, but things have changed in that it is the goal every week now.”

Gough was swarmed in the top-five with the dominant German women’s team who won their 103rd consecutive World Cup race. Natalie Geisenberger finished on top with a combined time of 1:41.756, while Tatjana Hüfner clocked a silver-medal winning time of 1:41.776.

Calgary’s World Cup rookie, Arianna Jones, was the only other Canadian in the field and finished 14th at 1:44.052.

With the soft-spoken Canuck in third, Gough has rewritten the history books in Canada as the only Canadian luge athlete ever to win three World Cup medals. The only other Canadians to reach the podium are: Marie-Claude Doyen (1984 in Sarajevo); Tyler Seitz (2002 Calgary); and Regan Lauscher (2004 Lake Placid). None have been able repeat their podium performances, let alone strike three times in one season.

“I obviously know people are talking about the history of these results, but I think being in it makes it hard to appreciate right now because I’m so immersed in the season,” added Gough. “My confidence is good right now, but this sport is such a mental game within yourself. I want to keep having good results. It is great for our sport, but I can’t get ahead of the process. Once I get home and process everything this spring, I think it may hit home.”

Gough has also picked up some cold, hard cash during her historic season thanks to a generous donation initiative by former luge athlete, John Hooks. The president and chief executive officer of Phoenix Technology Services Inc., who competed during the 1980’s, is awarding $5,000 for a gold medal, $3,000 for silver or bronze medals and $2,000 for top-10 performances to any Canadian luge athlete. Hooks also donated $10,000 to the team.

In addition to Hooks, much of the Canadian team’s success can be attributed to the generous financial support by Own the Podium, who have been the financial lifeline of the national program. The Canadian Luge Association also welcomed its first-ever corporate partner, Fast Track Capital, two years ago, which has helped ready them to pounce on the podium. Two years ago the team put For Sale stickers on their helmets while sliding at World Cups in Canada, which attracted the additional support from the Alberta-based corporation.

“Own the Podium funding has helped us recruit a world-leading coaching staff, and provided access to resources that have clearly helped significantly boost our performance,” said Tim Farstad, executive director, Canadian Luge Association, who added the Canadian team also won a silver medal in the team relay event earlier this year. “Our sport traditionally has not had a lot of corporate support in the past, but from Own the Podium to Fast Track Capital and John Hooks, this support is proof that money turns into medals.”

The men’s doubles race also hit the track in Königssee. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt posted the winning time of 1:41.362. Italy’s Christian Oberstolz and Patrick Gruber were second at 1:41.448, while Austria’s Andreas Linger and Wolfgang Linger locked up third spot at 1:41.607.

Calgary’s Justin Snith and Tristan Walker, of Cochrane, Alta., were 17th with a combined time of 1:43.508.

The World Cup continues in Königssee, Germany on Thursday with the men’s singles and team relay races.

The Canadian Luge Association is a not-for-profit organization responsible for 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
Women’s Top-Five and Canadian Results:
1.Natalie Geisenberger, GER, 1:41.756; 2. Tatjana Hüfner, GER, 1:41.776; 3. Alex Gough, Calgary, CAN, 1:42.215; 4. Carina Schwab, GER, 1:42.477; 5. Anke Wischnewski, GER, 1:42.523.
Other Canadian Results:
14. Arianne Jones, Calgary, 1:44.052.

Doubles Top-Five and Canadian Results:
1. Wendl/Arlt, GER, 1:41.362; 2. Oberstolz/Gruber, ITA, 1:41.488; 3. Linger/Linger, AUT, 1:41.607; 4. Fischnaller/Schweinbacher, ITA, 1:41.955; 5. Penz/Fischler, AUT, 1:42.021.
Canadian Results:
17. Walker, Cochrane, Alta./Snith, Calgary, 1:43.508.