Canada’s Great Gough Slides to Bronze Medal at Luge World Cup Season Opener in Austria
IGLS, Aut.—Alex Gough proved the intimidation factor of the powerful German nation in luge is now gone as the young Canuck blasted her way to a bronze medal in the World Cup season-opener in Igls, Austria on Saturday.
The 25-year-old Calgarian, who set a track record at 39.983 in her opening run which was later beat by the race winner Anke Wischnewski at 39.875, slid to third spot with a two-run time of 1:19.988.
“I worked very hard this summer to bring the focus back to myself and away from things that I can’t control because I do believe I perform better if that’s where my focus is,” said Gough, who admitted despite having stellar results last season she was sliding away from keeping the emphasis on what she has to do. “I think last season I started weighing myself down with expectations, but I know if I pull fast starts and have clean runs I can be right there and I was able to do that today.”
Sitting in second spot after her first trip down the Igls luge chute, which is known as a gliders track, Gough was not able to catch Wischnewski who clocked a winning time of 1:19.836. Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger posted the fastest final run to finish second at 1:19.910.
Sandwiched comfortably between four German athletes in the top-five of the standings, Gough believes this is the group where she belongs after grabbing her eighth World Cup medal and second consecutive bronze in Igls.
“I know that if I pull good starts and create as much velocity as I can that I can be the best so yes I think the major intimidation factor of the Germans is gone for me now,” said Gough, who also has a World Championship bronze medal to her credit. “For sure they are always going to be good, but I also know that if keep the focus on myself I can be great too.”
That belief is resonating through a determined Canadian luge squad hungry to make history next year by winning the nation’s first ever Olympic medal in the sport. The strong results continued in the women’s race with Calgary’s Arianne Jones matching her eighth-place finish last year in Igls. The 22-year-old Jones clocked a two-run time of 1:20.506. Calgary’s Kim McRae was also solid in the first outing of her second season on the World Cup, finishing 13th at 1:20.614.
The Canadian confidence carried into the doubles race where Tristan Walker, of Cochrane, Alta., and Calgary’s Justin Snith, had their best result ever on a European track with a seventh-place finish. Young relative to the rest of the world, Walker, 21, and Snith, 20, clocked a two-run time of 1:19.994. Their best World Cup result is sixth on their home track in Calgary.
“We are definitely happy with this considering in August I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to slide,” said Walker who badly injured his hand this summer. “I really didn’t know how we were going to do with our starts, but it went well today. I do think we are now ready to make a move and can be right there with the best.”
Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished on top of the pile at 1:19.464, while their countrymen Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecker slid to the silver with a time of 1:19.497. Austria’s Peter Penz and Georg Fischler rounded out the podium in third at 1:19.569.
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 nations 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. Anke Wischnewski, GER, 1:19.836; 2. Natalie Geisenberger, GER, 1:19.910; 3. Alex Gough, Calgary, CAN, 1:19.988; 4. Tatjana Hüfner, GER, 1:20.022; 5. Aileen Frisch, GER, 1:20.408.
Other Canadian Results:
8. Arianne Jones, Calgary, 1:20.506; 13. Kim McRae, Calgary, 1:20.614
Men’s Doubles Top-Five and Canadian Results: 1. Tobias Wendl/Tobias Arlt, GER, 1:19.464; 2. Toni Eggert/Sascha Benecker, GER, 1:19.497; 3. Peter Penz/Georg Fischler, AUT, 1:19.569; 4. Andreas Linger/Wolfgang Linger, AUT, 1:19.668; 5. Christian Oberstotz/Patrick Gruber, ITA, 1:19.759
7. Tristan Walker, Cochrane, Alta./Justin Snith, Calgary, 1:19.994