Alex Gough Wins Historic Bronze Medal at Luge World Championships
Alex Gough added a new chapter to the Canadian sport history books as the first Canadian ever to win a medal at the Luge World Championships when she slid to the bronze on Saturday in Cesana, Italy.
Posting some of the fastest training times all week on the track where she made her Olympic debut in 2006 at just 18 years of age, Gough recovered after making a sloppy mistake at the top of her opening run, to nail her second trip down the 17-corner track and post a combined time of one minute, 34.413 seconds (1:34.413).
“It feels so good and I’m absolutely pumped to finish third,” said Gough. “I have been sliding well all week and I had the confidence that I knew I can be there on the podium. I love this track. It is fast and fun and this is just a very proud moment for me and the program.”
Germany’s Tatjana Hufner won the gold with a time of 1:33.969, while Natalie Geisenberger, also of Germany claimed the silver with a time of 1:34.243.
Canadian rookie, Arianne Jones of Calgary, had a stellar day with two consistent runs down the track. One of the smallest athletes on the circuit, the 20-year-old Jones finished 13th with a time of 1:35.548.
Gough’s breakthrough as a contender with the world’s best came in 2009 where she regularly placed in the top-10, and finished fourth at the World Championships that year in Lake Placid, N.Y.
“I think this is some sweet redemption. I was so close at the last World Championships, but especially after last year with the disappointment around everything at the Olympics. It is nice to follow up such a great year with a podium here,” said Gough. “This track is a lot like Whistler. It is very fast and has some tricky points. I have a lot of fun sliding on it.”
The 23-year-old Calgarian has completely rewritten the luge history books this season. She became only the fourth Canadian ever to win a World Cup medal in luge when she claimed her first bronze in Winterberg, Germany. Gough became the first Canadian to win multiple luge World Cup medals after adding another bronze in Park City, Utah two weeks later. She added to that record with her third bronze-medal win in Konigssee, Germany. And Saturday, became the first Canadian ever to stand on a World Championship podium in luge.
“I am so excited for our sport and what this means to all of us,” said Gough. “It is pretty cool to become the first Canadian to win a medal at Worlds, but I’m more happy for everyone involved. A lot of people have worked very hard to help get me to this point.”
While not winning a medal at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the Canadian Luge Team leveraged the increased attention in Canadian sport to help boost athlete’s pursuit of the podium.
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 position them 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. Increased funding has equaled medal-winning results.
“This result was shaping up over the last two years. It is a long process and everything needed to match for it to come together,” said Wolfgang Staudinger, who was recruited from Germany in 2007 thanks to funding from Own the Podium. “It isn’t just coaching, or just technology. It is everything. With all of the proper resources in place, suddenly the system works. That was history today!”
Calgary’s Sam Edney was the top Canadian male in 16th spot at 1:44.743. Calgary’s Jeff Christie was 18th with a time of 1:44.802, while Brendan Hauptmann, of Kimberley, B.C. placed 22nd at 1:44.981.
Italy’s Armin Zoggeler won the men’s race with a time of 1:43.538.
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. Tatjana Hüfner, GER, 1:33.969; 2. Natalie Geisenberger, GER, 1:34.243; 3. Alex Gough, Calgary, CAN, 1:34.413; 4. Nina Reithmayer, AUT, 1:34.470; 5. Anke Wischnewski, GER,1:34.591
Other Canadian Results:
13. Arianne Jones, Calgary, 1:35.548
Men’s Top-Five and Canadian Results:
1. Armin Zoggeler, ITA, 1:43.538; 2. Felix Loch, GER, 1:43.559; 3. Andi Langenhan, GER, 1:44.013; 4. David Moller, GER, 1:44.121; 5. Reinhold Rainer, ITA, 1:44.171.
16. Sam Edney, Calgary, 1:44.743; 18. Jeff Christie, Calgary, 1:44.802; 22. Brendan Hauptmann, Kimberly, B.C., 1:44.981.