Canadian Luge Athletes Cap Off Historic World Championships with Silver and Bronze Medals in Whistler
WHISTLER, B.C.—Canada’s luge athletes put on a show in front of their hometown crowd, proving to the world they have emerged as one of the most powerful nations on the planet after winning a silver and bronze medal on Saturday, putting the icing on the cake to the most successful World Championships in the program’s history.
Calgary’s Alex Gough blazed the trail to the podium by winning the bronze in the women’s singles race before teaming up with fellow Calgarians, Sam Edney and Justin Snith, along with Tristan Walker of Cochrane, Alta., to win the silver medal in the thrilling team relay with a time of 2:04.272.
“This was a weekend of close results. We had such a successful Saturday and Alex gave us the encouragement this afternoon that we deserve to be on the podium,” said the 28-year-old veteran of the team Sam Edney, who posted the best-ever World Championship result for a Canadian male on Saturday when he was fifth. The doubles tandem of Walker and Snith also slid an inch short of the podium in doubles racing Saturday with a historic fourth-place finish.
“This really is awesome, and it feels so good to be on the podium in front of this crowd. I love everything about Whistler and this one is for the whole town to celebrate,” said Edney.
The Germans finished on top with a time of 2:03.826. Latvia slid to the bronze medal at 2:04.854.
Included in the 2014 Olympic line-up, the team competition is a one-run bomb race, which consists of one female sled, one male sled and one doubles team sled. Each athlete completes one run for a combined final time. Consistency amongst all three sliders is the key to success in the team event. In an effort to make luge more exciting for the teams and spectators, the International Luge Federation introduced the relay-type system that had the athletes hitting a pad that hangs over the track at the finish, which in turn opens the gate at the start for the next team member.
The Canadians have been successful in the event since its introduction, and won the bronze medal at the World Championships last year in Altenberg, Germany.
But with just over one year to go to Sochi, how do the Canadians close the gap on the dominant Germans?
“We need to keep working the way we are,” said Alex Gough. “We keep coming closer and closer – closing the door – and we need to continue to do that and keep fighting for it. Yes, it is frustrating to see them on top all the time, but we are going to fight for it (in the next year).”
Gough started the track to the podium on Saturday afternoon for the Canadians when the blonde bomber got some sweet redemption from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games on the Whistler Sliding Centre track by capturing the second bronze medal of her career in women’s singles action at the World Championships. The 25-year-old thrilled the red and white dressed hometown crowd that were waving flags and signs with her face on them as they packed-in around the finish area. Gough clocked a two-run time of 1:13.546.
“It feels really good,” smiled Gough at the finish dock. “It is tough to be that close to a silver medal, and not be there but I’m very happy with my performance. “I felt like I had good runs and I slid as well as I have been all week. I have to be happy with that.”
Gough was joined on the podium by two German athletes. Natalie Geisenberger finished on top with a time of 1:13.428. Tatjana Hufner finished in second place at 1:13.534.
The bronze medal adds another chapter to a historic run for Gough since a disappointing showing at the 2010 Games.
The trail of accomplishments for the two-time Olympian are a as long as the 1,400-metre Whistler track. Two years ago she 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. After climbing onto the World Cup podium multiple times, she became the first Canadian luge athlete to win a World Championship medal in 2011 when she was third in Cesana, Italy. Gough’s incredible ride continued last year where she became the first Canadian luge athlete to win a gold medal on her home track in Calgary.
Gough has nine career World Cup medals in addition to her two bronze-medal slides at the World Championships which she racked up over the last three years.
Equally remarkable to Gough was the career-best day for Canada’s young Kimberley McRae who finished in seventh place. Sitting in 10th spot after the first run, the 20-year-old Calgarian climbed three spots up the standings into seventh after punching the clock at 1:13.939. Calgary’s 22-year-old Arianne Jones also had her best finish at a World Championships finishing eighth at 1:13.949. The result also jumped McRae and Jones in the silver and bronze-medal positions in the Under-23 World Championships, which are held in conjunction with the elite race.
Rookie Jordan Smith, of Calgary, rounded out the Canadian contingent in 19th (1:14.244).
The Canadian team now travels to Lake Placid, N.Y. for the final World Cup in North America before heading to Sochi, Russia for the Olympic test event.
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 Team Relay Results:
1. Germany, 2:03.86; 2. Canada, 2:04.72; 3. Latvia, 2:04.854; 4. Austria, 2:04.862; 5. United States, 2:04.866
Women’s Top-Five and Canadian Results:
1.Natalie Geisenberger, GER, 1:13.428; 2. Tatjana Hufner, GER, 1:13.534; 3. Alex Gough, Calgary, CAN, 1:13.546; 4. Anke Wischnewski, GER, 1:13.658; 5. Aileen Frisch, GER, 1:13.815
Other Canadian Results:
7. Kimberley McRae, Calgary, 1:13.939; 8. Arianne Jones, Calgary, 1:13.949; 19. Jordan Smith, Calgary, 1:14.244