Alex Gough BecomesFirst Canadian Ever to Win Gold at Luge World Cup
Alex Gough celebrated the one year anniversary of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games by becoming the first Canadianever to win a World Cup luge race on Saturday in Paramonova, Russia, ending the German women’s unprecedented 105-straight victories which was the longest running winning streak in the world of sport.
The 23-year-old Calgarian clocked a two-run golden time of one minute, 33.536 (1:33.536) at the first World Cup ever on the Russian track, which was opened at the same time as the Whistler Sliding Centre.
“This is absolutely fantastic. I still can’t believe it,” said Gough. “I always knew that this winning streak would come to an end one day, but I never thought that I would be the one to do it. This track is new for all of us. There is no one who can claim a home advantage. I’m extremely happy.”
The last non-German athlete to win a women’s World Cup race was Austria’s Andrea Tagwerker on November 29, 1997.
“You cannot even imagine what it was like around the finish line when a Canadian finally ended this streak,” said Wolfgang Staudinger, head coach, Canadian Luge Team. “This is not just history in Canada, but this is luge history in the world. We are very happy and will have to party as a team tonight.”
Germany’s Carina Schwab was second at 1:33.914, while Natalie Geisenberger settled for the bronze with a time of 1:33.935. Canada’s 20-year-old World Cup rookie, Arianne Jones of Calgary, also had a stellar finish, placing in ninth with a time of 1:34.748.
The victory is the fifth medal in a dream season for Canada’s Gough where she hascompletely rewritten the luge history books. In addition to becoming the first Canadian to win a luge World Cup race, the two-time Olympian started her podium run this season as the fourth Canadian ever to win a World Cup medal in thesport with three bronze, and subsequently the only Canuck ever to win multiple international medals. Two weeks ago Gough also became the first Canadian ever to reach the podium at the Luge World Championships where she also slid to a bronze.
“It has been an incredible year and I just feel like so much of the hard work over the last six years is really paying off,” said Gough, who is equally brilliant in off the track. A self-described bookwormGough received the Governor Generals medal for highest academic average when graduating from the National Sports School in Calgary. “This is huge and incredible for not only me but our program in Canada. We have to keep building and growing from this.”
It is fitting the historic gold-medal performance comes on the one-year anniversary of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games – an event which has played a critical role in turning the Canadian luge program around.
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 whilesliding at World Cups in Canada, which attracted the additional support from the Alberta-based corporation. Increased funding has equaled medal-winning results.
As a result, the program recruited Wolfgang Staudinger three years ago to guide the team towards the podium. This summer a new dimension was added to help Staudinger with Bernhard Glass joining the team also from Germany.
“This was a long process and we stuck with it. We started to show success last year buthiring Bernie was the missing link. One person cannot change it all – we have been in this together as a team. He is a big reason for the breakthrough this season,” said Staudinger. “But the real credit has to be given to Own the Podium, Sport Canada and Fast Track Capital. They have made it possible for us to put the resources in place for our athletes to succeed. They did not give up on us. They have stuck with us the entire time, and should be celebrate today because that was luge history.”
“Staudie came in here three years ago knowing the system would work,” said Gough. “This year we added Bernie and now we are all really starting to see things pay off.”
Canada’s young doubles team, Tristan Walker of Cochrane, Alta., and Calgary’s Justin Snith, finished 11th at 1:34.854. The doubles race was won by Austria’s Andreas Linger and Wolgang Linger with a time of 1:33.189.
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. Alex Gough, Calgary, CAN, 1:33.536; 2. Carina Schwab, GER, 1:33.914; 3. Natalie Geisenberger, GER, 1:33.935; 4. Tatjana Hüfner, GER, 1:33.976; 5. Tatiana Ivanova, RUS, 1:34.000.
Other Canadian Results:
9. Arianne Jones, Calgary, 1:34.748
Men’s Doubles Top-Fiveand Canadian Results:
1. Linger/Linger, AUT, 1:33.189; 2. Wendl/Arlt, GER, 1:33.393; 3. Sics/Sics, LAT, 1:33.450; 4. Eggert/Benecker, GER, 1:33.361; 5. Fischnaller/Schweinbacher, ITA, 1:33.617
11. Tristan Walker, Cochrane, Alta./Justin Snith, Calgary, 1:34.854