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New Look Canadian Luge Squad Set to Open World Cup Season in Austria

Jenna Spencer becomes first baby of 2010 legacy to earn spot on national team

 CALGARY—Two-time Olympians, Alex Gough and Sam Edney, will be counted on to lead a young and new-look Canadian luge squad that will kick off the 2011-12 World Cup season this weekend in Igls, Austria.

The 24-year-old Gough will be one of four Canadian women to hit the start houses on tracks around the world this winter. Gough is coming off a record-breaking season where she became the first Canadian to win a World Cup race, the first Canadian to win a bronze medal at the World Championships, and the first Canadian to reach the podium multiple times on the elite sliding circuit. The Calgarian won three bronze medals on the World Cup.

Gough’s Calgary-based Olympic teammate at the last two Games, Sam Edney, will be the lone Canadian man on the World Cup circuit. The 27-year-old Edney, who posted the best-ever Canadian performance at the Olympic Winter Games when he was seventh in Whistler, B.C., will look to follow Gough’s to the podium.

“Last year’s breakthrough season for Alex has inspired our young team to train harder and made them realize they too can win,” said Walter Corey, high-performance director, Canadian Luge Association.
“While this team remains small and young compared to our World Cup rivals, we have two of the top athletes in the world in Alex and Sam steering the ship as we rebuild during a period of transition for the World Cup season. We are counting on Alex to continue her level of success and optimistic Sam will continue his development and enjoy a breakthrough of his own.”

Gough will be joined by Calgary’s Arianne Jones who will start her second season on the World Cup circuit. The pint-sized 21 year old regularly slid into the top-15 during her rookie season which included a 13th-place finish at the World Championships. Calgary’s Kim McRae and Dayna Clay, who are junior level athletes, will travel with the World Cup group.

Edney will be joined on the men’s squad by Brendan Hauptman, of Kimberly, B.C. later in the season. Hauptman has been sidelined with a concussion sustained during a brutal crash at the first-ever World Cup race in Paramonovo, Russia last year.

Canada will also field one doubles sled on the World Cup. Calgarians, Tristan Walker (20) and Justin Snith (19), will look to build on the experience gained at the 2010 Olympics to slide their way up the international standings.

The World Cup begins this week in Igls, Austria, November 26-27 before the world’s best athletes head to Canada for back-to-back World Cups in Whistler, B.C., December 9-10, and Calgary, December 16-17.

Meanwhile, Canada’s next generation of Olympians hit the track for their season-opener on the Junior World Cup in Park City, Utah. The team includes the first-ever athlete from the west coast since the track was created for the 2010 Olympics as Jenna Spencer, of Whistler, posted a fourth-place finish in the youth division on the Junior Canadian Luge Team.

“We have worked extremely hard in taking advantage of the opportunity to tap into a huge population on Canada’s West Coast to attract youth to involved in our sport, and we are now witnessing the first example of those efforts,” said Corey. “With world-leading coaching, and a long-term athlete development model which starts with kids as young as eight, Jenna has made huge strides from her first recruitment camp, and is now on her way to pursuing her Olympic dream instilled her from the Games being hosted in her back yard.”

Spencer, who was a fore runner at the 2010 Games, is joined on the youth girls team by Calgary’s Emily Pacheco. Calgarians, John Fennel and Mitch Malyk, who won gold and silver respectively in Park City, will compete in the youth men’s division.

Calgarians Elena Corrigall, Jordan Smith, Jordan Carss and Laura Glover will make up the Junior girls team.

Calgary will host a Junior World Cup, December 1-2, 2011.

The Canadian Luge Association is a not-for-profit organization 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.

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