Luge Canada

Camrose luger makes mark internationally

A Camrose man who competes with a need for speed on a frozen track is having a successful season.

Kaj Johnson, from Camrose has been competing in the luge since he was 10-year-old, and is now a member of the Canadian Natural Luge Team.

With a shortened season facing athletes, Johnson and his teamates only two days training in Olang, Italy prior to their first stop on the 2010/2011 FIL Würz Energy World Cup Natural Track Luge in Kindberg, Austria.

The challenges of being thrust into competition with minimal training and equipment setup time push our athletes to the limit.

Being competitive

Wanting to be competitive from the very first run, while self-coaching completely on their own, left little room for error.

The first training run found some different results for the team.

Johnson posted the 19th fastest training run. Teammates John Gibson (24th) and Greg Jones (27th) both struggled in the mid section of the track and their times reflected this.

After a night of sled tuning and preparation, the second training run again had mixed results.

Johnson (tied for 22nd) had some difficulty in the top chicane section of the track while Gibson (24th) and Jones (25th) both improved their times.

In the first competition run, each of the athletes posted what would turn out to be their best run times of the weekend, with Johnson in 13th place, Gibson 19th, and Jones 22nd.

Final run

The final run for the men had our athletes all posting slower times. In Johnson's case his time was less than point five seconds slower which left him in 13th place.

Both of the other athletes struggled in the chicane section and Gibson slipped a couple of spots to 21st while Jones managed to retain his 22nd ranking.

Following the race, Johnson was pleased with his result.

"I am happy with my performance this weekend," said Johnson.

"With not being on a sled until just a few days ago it is nice to see that the only athletes to finish ahead of me were from either the Italian or Austrian powerhouse teams."

"The lack of pre-race training is something they all struggle with, but hopefully the training days I have prior to the 2011 World Championships in Umhausen, Austria will improve my consistency for next weekend," said Gibson.

With a disappointing final competition run Gibson said "Not having any time on a sled last season has left me rusty. This means extra work over the training days that I have left in trying to get the sled setup correct".

World championships

All three were gearing up for the 2011 FIL Natural Track World Championships this past weekend in Umhausen. At that event Johnson finished 13th, Gibson 21st, and Jones 22nd.