Canadian Luge Athletes Strike Gold in World Cup Team Competition
IGLS, Aut.—Canada’s determined luge team served notice to the world they are for real, and will be a force to reckon with in the team competition that will make its debut at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games after wining the gold medal at the season-opening World Cup event in Igls, Austria on Sunday.
Feeding off her bronze-medal performance in Saturday’s women’s singles race, Canada’s 23-year-old Alex Gough joined forces with Sam Edney, 27, and a 20-year-old doubles tandem of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith, to lead the world’s best down the track in Igls, Austria. The Calgary-based Canadian sleds proved they are developing into one of the most consistent teams in the world after punching the clock with a golden time of two minutes, 8.774 seconds.
“The team event is about putting three quality runs together and posting a solid time. We did that and it is a sweet victory for us,” said Sam Edney. “Winning a team event shows the success of an entire program. We are growing up together as a group. People now look at Canada differently <in luge>, and are realizing that we are contenders every time we participate in one of these competitions. Being on the circuit for a number of years now, that is a good feeling.”
The young Canucks knocked off a powerful German squad who won the silver with a time of 2:08.991. Russia rounded out the team podium in third at 2:09.427.
The team competition, which is a one-run bomb race, consists of one female sled, one male sled and one doubles team sled, who each complete one run for a combined final time. In an effort to make the event more exciting for the teams and spectators, the International Luge Federation introduced the relay-type system that had the athletes hitting a pad at the finish, which in turn opens the gate at the start for the next team member. Strategy comes into play as the coaches communicate over radio to make sure the next athlete is ready to go as soon as the gate opens.
“That was some bad ass sliding today. It was solid racing in a really tough competition,” said Wolfgang Staudinger, head coach, Canadian Luge Team. “This event is now in the Olympics and is no joke anymore. The world takes it very seriously,”
The International Olympic Committee announced earlier this year the luge team event will make its Olympic debut at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.
Historically Canada has done well in the team format where they have regularly slid onto the podium. They won gold in the team format in Austria two years ago, and were second last year.
“I think other countries knew we were quick, but are extremely surprised out how consistent and solid we have been lately,” said Staudinger. “We still have lots of work to do on our starts, but we are on a good path right now and I am extremely happy for our team.”
Earlier in the day Calgary’s Sam Edney was the lone Canadian to compete in the men’s singles race where he finished 16th with a time of 1:41.299.
“Igls and I have a bit of a love-hate relationship,” said Edney. “I have been sliding well but I’m sick of watching myself be one of the best going down the track, but not fast. I had a good discussion with my coaches between runs, and we realize it is time to take some risks and attack. I’m not thrilled with my result, but things are heading in the right direction and I’m motivated to get to Whistler.”
Germany’s Felix Loch won the season opener with a two-run combined time of 1:40.270. David Möller, also of Germany, grabbed the silver at 1:40.573, while Italy’s Armin Zöggeler took home the bronze with a time of 1:40.627.
The Canadian squad now travels home for the return of the World Cup in Whistler, B.C. for the first time since the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
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.
COMPLETE RESULTS: www.fil-luge.org
Top-Five Team Competition Results;
1. Canada, 2:08.774; 2. Germany, 2:08.991; 3. Russia, 2:09.427; 4. Austria, 2:09.461; 5. Latvia, 2:09.674.
Men’s Top-Five Results:
1. Felix Loch, GER, 1:40.270; 2. David Möller, GER, 1:40.573; 3. Armin Zöggeler, ITA, 1:40.627; 4. Johannes Ludwig, GER, 1:40.699; 5. Albert Demchenko, RUS, 1:40.728.
16. Sam Edney, Calgary, 1:41.299.
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