Canadian Luge Athletes Celebrate Historic Day at World Championships in Whistler
WHISTLER, B.C.—It was a record-setting day for Canada’s luge squad at the World Championships on their home track at the Whistler Sliding Centre on Friday evening.
Tristan Walker and Justin Snith put down the best doubles result in Canadian history at the Luge World Championships, sliding shy of the podium in fourth spot. Two-time Olympian, Sam Edney, capped the night off posting the top men’s singles finish with a fifth-place result.
The 21-year-old Canadian tandem of Walker and Snith took advantage of two personal best start times to clock a two-run combined time of 1:13:268 at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
“Wow! That was not too shabby,” said Calgary’s Snith at the finish corral. “It was a big change in that second run from the first and I know that it is one big step to take to get to the next level on the podium, but this is an awesome feeling.”
The previous best finish by a Canadian doubles sled at the World Championships came back in 2001 when Mike Moffat and Grant Albrecht finished fifth in Calgary.
The young Canucks were sitting in fifth spot after the first run, but battled back with a near perfect final bomb down the fastest track in the world to climb one more spot in the standings.
“The first run was a little sloppy in the bottom, but we are really happy with this result even with the mistakes,” said Walker, of Cochrane, Alta., “There is really nothing more we could have done to push for that next spot. We slid as well as we can slide today. Now we need to keep working on that consistency, and that is the difference of competing with the Germans.”
Those powerful German sleds controlled the podium by grabbing the top-two spots. Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt joined forces to capture the 2013 world title with a time of 1:12.842. Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken slid to the silver step on the podium with a time of 1:13.042. Austria’s Andreas Linger and Wolfgang Linger snagged the bronze at 1:13.268.
The career-best result for the young Canucks also solidified them the Under-23 World Championship title, which is held in conjunction with the elite race. The Canadian sled finished ahead of Italy’s Ludwig Rieder and Patrick Rastner who clocked-in at 1:13.568 in the Under-23 class.
“We were definitely aware of the Under-23 race and it means a lot to us,” said Walker. “There is a bit of an unspoken rivalry between us and the Italians because we both got onto our national programs and began sliding on the World Cup in the same year. It feels great to beat them.”
The fourth-place finish builds on a strong World Cup campaign for the Canadian duo who matched their previous career-best sixth-place finish twice this year.
Meanwhile, it was Sam Edney who slid into the spotlight as the lights shone on the 1,374-metre Whistler Sliding Centre track on Friday night for the men’s singles race.
The 28-year-old veteran of Canada’s luge squad slid into the history books with the best Canadian-born men’s singles result at the World Championships after clocking a fifth-place time of 1:36.796.
“That was close,” sighed Edney, who finished a blink of an eye from the podium. “To be in the mix with the Germans is huge for me. This is my home track and I feel that I know this place better than I know myself sometimes. My planning was on it today. It would have been nice to be on the podium, but I am really happy with the result.”
Miroslav Zajonc was a Czech-born luger who won the World Championships in 1983 while wearing Canadian colours. Zajonc later acquired his American citizenship where he competed for the United States at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games. Zajonc was on-site Friday coaching the United States team.
Calgary’s Edney has a strong connection to the Whistler Sliding Centre. He posted the best-ever Canadian Olympic men’s singles result at the track in 2010 when he was seventh. Last year Edney posted his career-best World Cup finish on the icy chute when he was fifth.
“I feel really comfortable on the track here,” said Edney. “I have a good vibe here, and I feed off the energy of the town and the track. I enjoy sliding here, and as soon as I enjoy the sliding it makes it very easy.”
Edney was the fastest athlete in the world outside of the Germans who slid to the top-four spots in the standings. Felix Loch continued his dominance in Whistler climbing to the top of the podium once again. The 201 Olympic champion, who also won the World Cup in Whistler one year ago, clocked a golden time of 1:36.375. Andi Langenhan finished second at 1:36.750, while Johannes Ludwig was third (1:36.775).
Two Calgary-based 17 year olds also hit the start line for Canada at the World Championships where they qualified for the second run with the top-25 sliders. John Fennell placed 24th (1:37.883), while Mitchel Malyk stopped the clock at 1:37.940 for 25th spot.
The action heats up on Saturday at the Luge World Championships in Whistler with the women hitting the track at 3 p.m., followed by the spectator-friendly team relay race at 6 p.m. Tickets to the event can be purchased for $10. The Luge World Championships are also streamed live at www.luge.ca/wc2013/
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
Doubles Top-Five and Canadian Results:
1. Tobias Wendl/Tobias Arlt, GER, 1:12.842; 2. Toni Eggert/Sascha Benecken, GER, 1:13.042; 3. Andreas Linger/Wolfgang Linger, AUT, 1:13.268; 4. Tristan Walker, Cochrane, Alta./Justin Snith, Calgary, CAN, 1:13.246; 5. Peter Penz/George Fischler, AUT, 1:13.449
Men’s Top-Five Results:
1. Felix Loch, GER, 1:36.375; 2. Andi Langenhan, GER, 1:36.750; 3. Johannes Ludwig, GER, 1:36.775; 4. David Moller, GER, 1:36.786; 5. Sam Edney, Calgary, CAN, 1:36.796
Other Canadian Results:
24. John Fennell, Calgary, 1:37.883; 25. Mitchel Malyk, Calgary, 1:37.940.