Alex Gough Opens Olympic Year with Luge Bronze
LILLEHAMMER, Nor.—Canada’s Alex Gough opened the World Cup luge season with a bronze medal in Lillehammer, Norway on Saturday.
The 26-year-old slid to her 12th career World Cup medal after clocking a two-run combined time of one minute, 36.233 (1:36.233) on the 1,185-metre icy chute in Norway, which played host to the 1994 Olympic Winter Games.
“To start things off on a track where I’m not comfortable on, and I haven’t been to in nine years, and to be in the medals is a huge confidence booster for me”, said Gough, who has only raced in Lillehammer as a junior athlete. “The podium, or result, wasn’t the most important thing today. I really wanted to just begin the season with decent starts and two solid runs so it feels really good to have been able to do that.”
Warm weather and a late start position played into the two-time Olympians slow first bomb down the 13-corner gliders track where she sat in eighth spot. But the Calgarian quickly rebounded, shaking off any early season rust to climbe fived spots to secure her first medal of the season after posting the fourth quickest line in the second heat.
“I started 23rd in the first run, and the track started frosting over and was a bit bumpy so it was pretty slow,” said Gough, who also has two World Championship medals in singles racing. “I had no expectations coming into today. The first race is always such an unknown because you train all summer and you don’t know where you stand. But it was good today, and I’m happy with the start to the season.”
Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger took the gold medal with a time of 1:35.847. Russia’s Tatiana Ivanova snagged the silver at 1:36.031.
Three other Calgary-based Canadian women struggled in their first trip to Lillehammer on the World Cup. Kimberley McRae placed 18th at 1:36.696, while Arianne Jones was 21st (1:36.875), and Jordan Smith slid to 23rd spot (1:37.025).
Meanwhile, Canada’s doubles tandem of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith battled to find their top form on Saturday in doubles racing. The Canucks posted a 19th place time of 1:37.123.
Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt set a track record in their opening run to win the doubles race with a time of 1:35.490. Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken were second at 1:35.569. Austria’s Andreas Linger and Wolfgang Linger teamed up to win the bronze medal after stopping the clock at 1:35.612.
The World Cup continues on Sunday in Norway with men’s singles racing.
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COMPLETE RESULTS: www.fil-luge.org
Women’s Top-Five and Canadian Results:
1.Natalie Geisenberger, GER, 1:35.847; 2. Tatiana Ivanova, RUS, 1:36.031; 3. Alex Gough, Calgary, CAN, 1:36.233; 4. Eliza Tiruma, LAT, 1:36.268; 5. Nina Reithmayer, AUT, 1:36.274
Other Canadian Results:
18. Kimberley McRae, Calgary, 1:36.696;; 21. Arianne Jones, Calgary, 1:36.875; 23. Jordan Smith, Calgary, 1:37.025
Doubles Top-Five and Canadian Results:
1. Wendl/Arlt, GER, 1:35.490; 2. Eggert/Benecken, GER, 1:35.569; 3. Linger/Linger, AUT, 1:35.612; 4. Oberstolz/Gruber, ITA, 1:36.048; 5. Yurzhakov/Makhnutin, RUS, 1:36.117
19. Walker, Cochrane, Alta./Snith, Calgary, 1:37.123