Canadian Luge Athletes Celebrate Silver in World Cup Team Competition
IGLS, Aut.—Canada’s luge athletes proved they are one of the most consistent nations on the elite circuit, winning the silver medal in the team relay competition in Igls, Austria on Sunday – an event that will make its Olympic debut at the 2014 Winter Games.
Feeding off her bronze-medal performance in Saturday’s women’s singles race, Canada’s 25-year-old Alex Gough joined forces with Sam Edney, 28, and a doubles tandem of Tristan Walker, 21, and Justin Snith, 20, to lead the world’s best down the track in Igls, Austria. The Calgary-based Canadian sleds proved they have overcome the odds and emerged as one of the strongest teams in the world after punching the clock with a silver medal-winning time of two minutes, 9.237 seconds.
“It is nice to show we still have it in the first race of the year, but there remains a gap between us and the Germans and we need to focus on closing that,” said Sam Edney, a 10-year veteran of the World Cup team. “When we broke into the medals a few years ago we were a young team with potential. We have all matured to the point where we know what we want to achieve, and can achieve.
Most importantly, we now know we can be in the medals, but that is not good enough anymore. We want to show we are a stronger team than the Germans, and overtake them. For anyone on this team, I think that would be one of the biggest satisfactions to say we took them down.”
The determined Canucks finished just behind that powerful German team who clocked a golden time of 2:08.950. Italy was third at 2:09.737.
“We are now equal to the Germans on the track, but we have to get quicker on the start – that is where they win,” said Wolfgang Staudinger, head coach, Canadian Luge Team. “Today we were close, but we need to keep pushing. The relay is now a big event and is another shot for an Olympic medal and that is a big goal for us.”
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.
The International Olympic Committee announced last 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 have previously won two gold, and a silver in the team format in Austria over the last three years.
Earlier in the day Calgary’s Sam Edney was the lone Canadian to compete in the men’s singles race where he finished 15th with a time of 1:41.113.
“I had a good week of training, but the weather played some tricks on people today, and that hurt me on my first run,” said Edney, who was in the top-five in start times, which he admits is critical if he wants to contend with the world’s elite. “We made a decision we were going to be prepared for the second run and things changed again. I realized I need to have a better understanding of what I need, and want, to do with my sled. I’ve been in the sport for 14 years and felt like I was a rookie again. But we will learn from this. We close the cap on it and move on.”
Germany’s Felix Loch successfully defended his tittle in Igls from last year, sliding into the winner’s circle with a combined time of 1:40.229. David Möller, also of Germany, grabbed the silver at 11:40.536, while Johannes Ludwig completed the German sweep with a time of 1:40.600.
The Canadian squad now heads out on a tour through Germany, beginning with a stop in Konigssee for a World Cup next week.
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. Germany, 2:08.950; 2. Canada (Alex Gough, Calgary, Sam Edney, Calgary, Tristan Walker, Cochrane, Alta., Justin Snith, Calgary), 2:09.237; 3. Italy, 2:09.737; 4. Austria, 2:09.914; 5. Russia, 2:09.962.
Men’s Top-Five Results:
1. Felix Loch, GER, 1:40.229; 2. David Möller, GER, 1:40.536; 3. Johannes Ludwig, GER, 1:40.600; 4. Andi Langenhan, GER, 1:40.646; 5. Ralf Palik, GER, 1:40.785
15. Sam Edney, Calgary, 1:41.113