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Alex Gough Slides to Bronze Medal in Luge World Cup Season Opener

Three Canadian sleds storm into top-10 in women's singles and men's doubles

 IGLS, Aut.—Canada’s Alex Gough started the 2011-12 Luge World Cup season exactly where she got off her sled last year – on the bronze medal position of the podium.

The 24-year-old Calgarian, who rewrote the luge history books last year, was the lone international athlete amidst a throng of Germans at the top of the podium when she finished third after posting a two-run time of one minute, 19.628 seconds (1:19.628) in Igls, Austria on Saturday.

“It is great to start the season off on an high note and a good feeling to know that I still got it,” said Gough, who added it was sweet redemption on the Austrian track where she crashed in her first run last year. “We have such a long off-season so you always want to know where you stand. It is nice get this one out of the way and now I can focus on moving forward.”

Germany’s Tatjana Hufner won the gold with a time of 1:19.353, while Anke Wischnewski, also of Germany, settled for the silver at 1:19.554.

Gough has played havoc with the Germans dominance of women’s luge over the last 12 months. After becoming the first Canadian ever to climb onto the World Cup luge podium multiple times with three third-place finishes last year, Gough became the first Canuck to win a World Championship medal when she was third in Cesana Italy. Her remarkable season continued when she became the first athlete in the world to beat the German women to win a World Cup in 105 straight races. Gough captured Canada’s first World Cup victory in Paramonovo, Russia.

“It took so long for anyone to step up to the plate and say the Germans aren’t unbeatable. I didn’t plan to be that person, but got lucky and had a great race,” said Gough. “I now feel like I belong in that group and have been consistently at the top since but there is lots of work still to do. I do have some reserves, especially at the start, and I need to continue pushing myself to better on the starts, have two clean runs, and focus on the things that I can control.”

Two other Canadian sleds followed Gough’s trail into the top-10 on the Austrian track. World Cup sophomore, Arianne Jones of Calgary, posted her career-best result with an eighth-place finish. The smallest athlete on the elite circuit, the 21-year-old Jones punched the clock at 1 :19.944. Her previous best result was a ninth-place finish last year.

Two Calgary-based rookies on the World Cup also had a solid debut. Kim McRae was 12th at 1:20.088, while Dayna Clay finished 19th (1:20.498) in their first-ever World Cup start.

Canada’s lone doubles sled of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith, also edged their way into the top-10. Walker, of Cochrane, Alta., and Calgary’s Snith teamed up to finish ninth in men’s doubles with a time of 1:19.456.

The doubles race was won by Austria’s Peter Penz and Georg Fischler who clocked-in at 1:10.099. Russia’s Vladislav Yuzhakov and Vladimir Makhnutin were second at 1:19.175, while Autria’s Andreas Linger and Wolfgang Linger joined forces to win the bronze medal with a time of 1:19.187.

“Things went extremely well after a solid week of training. That was top notch sliding by our entire team today,” said Wolfgang Staudinger, head coach, Canadian Luge Team. “Alex has continued to build on what she’s doing and we are in the pack. The field is much tighter now and the world isn’t sleeping so we have to watch our backs and keep working hard. I’m very happy with our young girls. Those were very good results in their first race.”

The Luge World Cup continues on Sunday in Austria when Calgary’s Sam Edney will hit the start house for the men’s singles race. A team relay will also take place.

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, 1:19.353; 2. Anke Wischnewski, GER, 1:19.554; 3. Alex Gough, Calgary, CAN, 1:19.628; 4. Natalie Geisenberger, GER, 1:19.620; 5. Corinna Martini, GER, 1:19.721.
Other Canadian Results:
8. Arianne Jones, Calgary, 1:19.944; 12. Kim McRae, Calgary, 1:20.088; 19. Dayna Clay, Calgary, 1:20.498.

Men’s Doubles Top-Five and Canadian Results:
1. Peter Penz/Georg Fischler, AUT, 1:19.099; 2. Vladislav Yuzhakov/Vladimir Makhnutin, RUS, 1:19.175; 3. Andreas Linger/Wolfgang Linger, AUT, 1:19.187; 4. Tobias Wendl/Tobias Arlt, GER, 1:19.266; 5. Toni Eggert/Sascha Benecken, GER, 1:19.282.
Canadian Results:
9. Tristan Walker, Cochrane, Alta./Justin Snith, Calgary, 1:19.456