Canadian Luge Athletes Cap Off Season with Team Relay Gold in Winterberg
WINTERBERG, Ger.–Canada’s luge athletes put a golden stamp on their World Cup season, winning their first team relay event in five years on Sunday in Winterberg, Germany.
Four Calgary-based athletes including Arianne Jones, Mitch Malyk and doubles sled of Justin Snith and Tristan Walker, clocked the time to beat at 2:26.595 in the final World Cup stop of the year.
“It was awesome to hear the Canadian anthem while standing on top of the podium,” said the 20-year-old Malyk, who has been steadily improving against the world’s best this year. “We all had clean runs and it is just a great way to end the season.”
The relay is a one-run bomb race consisting of one women’s, one men’s and one doubles sled. Athletes hit a pad hanging over the track after crossing the finish line, which opens the start gate for the next team member.
The Canadians won a bronze at the World Championships two weeks ago in Konigssee, and a silver last week in Altenberg. The Canadians are demonstrating the program’s depth with new athletes stepping in each week to deliver podium results.
A world of pressure on his soldiers, Malyk has been a key sled in Canada’s string of medals with the absence of veteran Sam Edney from the national team this year. Last week Kim McRae stepped in for Alex Gough, who returned home to complete school, on the relay squad. On Sunday, it was Arianne Jones’ turn. Competing in her first ever relay, the 25-year-old set the tone for the Canucks’ golden run.
“It was a great way to end the season for sure and very special to be a part of this team,” said Jones, who shocked the world with a bronze medal in women’s singles racing at a World Cup in Calgary last year. “We are a close group already, but to race together and then stand on the podium was fantastic.
“It was amazing for all of us to be on top of the podium and hear O Canada. Words can’t describe how good that feels. To end the season on a high point will give us more motivation to want more, and work harder through the summer which is really the most important part of our season.”
The Canadians took advantage of an early start position to propel themselves to gold as heavy winds and rain challenged the world’s best as the track frosted up with the warm weather, causing it to slow down.
The Russians finished behind the Canadians in second at 2:27.127, while the Austrians slid to the bronze medal at 2:27.237.
Earlier in the day, Mitch Malyk continued to demonstrate he has taken his sliding to a new level this year, regularly placing himself in the top-15 for most of the season. Malyk slid to 14th place on Sunday in the men’s singles race with a time of 1:48.023.
“It feels good to be able to finish off the season on a strong note,” added Malyk, who was 12th at World Championships, and last week in Altenberg. “I think the difference for me this year is I’m just beginning to feel more comfortable with the tracks more and more. My season was cut short last year with illness so I had a lot more sliding this year and it is staring to pay off.”
Russia’s Stepan Fedorov won the men’s race with a time of 1:47.210. American Chris Mazdzer celebrated the silver medal with a time of 1:47.245, while Italy’s Dominik Fischnaller locked up the bronze at 1:47.276.
The Canadian squad will return home on Monday where they will continue training over the next month before a spring break.
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 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 Relay Results:
1. Canada, 2:26.595; 2. Russia, 2:27.127; 3. Austria, 2:27.237; 4. Germany, 2:27.566; 5. USA, 2:27.726
Men’s Top-Five and Canadian Results:
1. Stepan Fedorov, RUS, 1:47.210; 2. Chris Mazdzer, USA, 1:47.245; 3. Dominik Fischnaller, ITA, 1:47.276; 4. Ralf Palik, GER, 1:47.360; 5. Wolfgang Kindl, AUT, 1:47.394
14. Mitch Malyk, Calgary, 1:48.023