Canada's Great Gough Golden at Luge World Cup in Calgary
CALGARY—The Canadian flag was raised high above the top step of the podium for the first time in the 19-year history of the Luge World Cup in Calgary thanks to a golden run by Alex Gough.
The 24-year-old Calgarian captured the second World Cup victory of her career, becoming the first Canuck to win a luge race in Canada and on her home track at Canada Olympic Park, thanks to a two-run time of one minute, 34.212 (1:34.212) on a warm and gusty night that challenged the world’s best sliders.
“I am in shock and awe. I’m in complete disbelief. This is so incredible,” said an emotional Gough who remains the only athlete in the world to have knocked off the Germans in luge since 1987. “The wind was my advantage tonight. It makes this track tricky, but I train in it all of the time so I just stayed focused on what I had to do.”
After putting down the fastest run (47.153) in her first trip down the 1,450-metre track in Calgary, the two-time Olympian walked away from the track to prepare herself for the most important run of her life while hundreds of friends and family lined the finish area awaiting her arrival.
“I just went away and did not focus on the exterior elements of the race,” said Gough. “I actually felt really good and calm. I just kept my head down and stayed focus on pulling a good start and having another good run. I still haven’t collected my thoughts and can’t believe it.”
The only other Canadian to have won a World Cup luge medal at the Canada Olympic Park track in Calgary was the venue’s track director, Tyler Seitz, who won a bronze medal at the 2002 World Cup.
Germany’s Tatjana Hüfner finished in second spot with a time of 1:34.324, while Russia’s Tatiana Ivanova grabbed the bronze at 1:34.724.
Gough’s golden run was another chapter in the luge history books that she has rewritten over the last 12 months. Last year, the blonde bomber became the first athlete in the world to beat the German women in 105 straight World Cup races when she slid to her first victory in Paramonova, Russia. She also became the first Canadian to climb onto the World Cup luge podium multiple times with three, third-place finishes, and became the first Canuck to win a World Championship medal when she was third in Cesana Italy.
Gough’s incredible ride continued into the 2011-12 campaign. She won another bronze in the opening race this year in Igls, Austria, and has a gold and silver with her teammates in the opening two races of the new team relay event.
The historic evening continued well beyond Gough as three Canadian women made into the top-eight for the first time ever in the history of the sport. Two 19-year-old junior athletes from Calgary shocked the world to grab spots in the top-10 on one of the most difficult nights ever on the 1988 Olympic Track. Kim McRae finished seventh at 1:35.509 and Dayna Clay clocked an eighth-place time of 1:35.650.
“I never expected these young girls to be in the top-10 so fast. These results are fantastic because that was as fast and hard of ice as I’ve ever seen in Calgary,” said Wolfgang Staudinger, head coach, Canadian Luge Team. “These results show the system is in place and it is working. These athletes have taken the same approach as Alex, and now the jump from the juniors to the World Cup is not as big. They are mentally strong, consistent and I’m very proud of them.”
Calgary’s Arianne Jones was the only other Canadian to suit up and finished 22nd after a difficult opening run, posting a combined time of 2:29.689.
The World Cup continues on Saturday with the men’s singles race set for 3:30 p.m., followed by the doubles at 6:30 p.m. All times are local to Calgary.
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
Top-Five Women’s and Canadians Results:
1. Alex Gough, Calgary, CAN, 1:34.212; 2. Tatjana Hüfner, GER, 1:34.324; 3. Tatiana Ivanova, RUS, 1:34.724; 4. Corinna Martini, GER, 1:34.819; 5. Anke Wischnewski, GER, 1:35.118.
Other Canadian Results:
7. Kim McRae, Calgary, 1:35.509; 8. Dayna Clay, Calgary, 1:35.650; 22. Arianne Jones, Calgary, 2:29.689.