Luge Canada

Lugers enthusiastic about new Olympic event

CBC News
Posted: Apr 7, 2011

Women ski jumpers may have captured the headlines, but Calgary luge racers are also celebrating the introduction of a new event in the Olympics.

The introduction of Luge Team Relay as one of six new Olympic events for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia could mean more medal wins for Canada, say racers who train at Calgary's Canada Olympic Park.

"Yeah, it's luge, but there are some interesting aspects to it," said Tim Farstad, executive director of the Canadian Luge Association. "It's fun for the fans. We noticed that people are interested."

Canada has never won an Olympic medal in luge, but that might change.

"We've done well in this event. We have won some gold medals, bronze, silver. We are always competitive in this event. So it's exciting for us," said Farstad.

Luger Alex Gough, who is on the Canadian team, agrees. She has made a name for herself winning a gold and three bronze medals at the World Cup, as well as another bronze at the World Championship.

"It's a real opportunity for Canada to have a chance at another medal at the Olympics," she said. "The Canadian team as a whole has shown in the past we can win medals at this event."
Rewards quick thinking and teamwork

Team relay will become the fourth Olympic luge event. A female racer goes down the track first, hits a paddle, which opens up a gate for the next person to go, explained Farstad.

"If you miss the paddle, the gate does not open and you are disqualified. So you do that, the man comes down, hits the paddle, and does the same thing for the [men's] doubles team. And they come down, hit the paddle again at the end to finish the time."

The event, which has been tested at the World Cup since 2007, involves teamwork and quick thinking, he said.

"[Usually] you will warm up and then you slide before … the countdown clock is completed. In this situation the gate opens and you go. So it is more of a reaction. It works for different athletes. Some of our athletes are actually really good at that."

Besides women's ski jumping and luge relay, on Wednesday the International Olympic Committee executive board approved four more events – men's and women's ski halfpipe, mixed relay in biathlon and team events figure skating.