ALTENBERG, Ger.—Canada’s luge athletes made history by winning their first-ever World Championship bronze medal in the team relay competition in Altenberg, Germany on Sunday.
Canada’s 24-year-old Alex Gough led the trio of Canadian sleds down the challenging 1,200-metre Altenberg Track with Sam Edney, 27, and a 20-year-old doubles tandem of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith. Having knocked off the Germans in the first World Cup team relay of the year in Austria, and finished second at home in Whistler, the Canadians clocked a combined time of 2:22.404 in front of 6,000 screaming fans.
“We feed off the energy of one another and have a lot of fun in this event. You can tell at the start that we feel the team atmosphere through the whole race and that is something we all benefit from,” said Sam Edney, who posted a career-best seventh in Saturday’s men’s race. “We have one of the best women in the world on our team and two young guys charging down the hill so we know that we can slide well and are good in this event.”
Germany won the event with a time of 2:22.003. Russia slid to the silver after punching the clock at 2:22.092.
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 aneffort to make luge more exciting for the teams and spectators, the International Luge Federation introduced the relay-type system that had theathletes hitting a pad at the finish, which in turn opens the gate at the start for the next team member.
Canada’s luge athletes have always had medal-winning success in the event on the World Cup, but have not been able to break through in four tries at the World Championships.
“It is a great feeling to finally beat the Canadian curse at the World Championships in the relay,” said Edney. “It was a great feeling standing on a World Championship podium. If you look at our results it is clear our team is capable of this. For me, I think this is a stepping stone and gives me a lot of confidence moving ahead.”
The Canadian team was handed the FIL flag while on the podium as hosts of next year’s World Luge Championships.
“That was a pretty proud moment for all four of us,” said Edney. “We get to bring the World Championships to Whistler, and we are very excited to have the opportunity to host the world while representing Canada.”
Prior to her medal-winning run, Calgary’s Alex Gough slid just short of the podium in the women’s race in Altenberg. The two-time Olympian, who made history of her own becoming the first Canadian ever to win a World Championship medal one year ago when she claimed the bronze, was edged off the podium in fourth at 1:44.418.
“Fourth is a great result, but it is tough to finish so close to the podium.” said Gough.
Gough has emerged as the nation’s most successful luge athlete over the last two years. The two-time Olympian has done it all with multiple podium finishes, and is theonly athlete in the world to have knocked off the German women to win a World Cup race in well over 100 starts. She accomplished the feat twice – first last year in Russia, and then became the first Canadian ever to win a luge World Cup race at home this year in Calgary.
Germany’s Tatjana Hufner won the World Championship title on Sunday with a time of 1 :44.381. Russia’s Tatiana Ivanova claimed the silver at 1 :44.482, while Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger slid to the bronze with a time of 1 :44.784.
Canada’s most successful day ever at the World Championships didn’t end with Gough. Calgary’s 19-year-old Dayna Clay posted her best-ever result on the elite circuit with a seventh-place finish. Still eligible to race as a junior, the rising star clocked a time of 1:45.372 – which also won her second place in the Under-23 division, which is held in conjunction with the World Championships.
Another youngCalgarian, 21-year-old Arianne Jones, fought her way into the top of the leaderboard with a 10th-place finish. Jones, who had a career-best sixth last month, posted a time of 1:45.521.
The Canadian squad now hits the road to Sigulda, Latvia for the second-last World Cup of the season.
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, 2:22.003; 2. Russia, 2:22.092; 3. Canada, 2:22.404; 4. Austria,2:22.736; 5. Italy, 2:22.746.
Women’s Top-Five and Canadian Results:
1.Tatjana Hufner, GER, 1:44.381; 2. Tatiana Ivanova, RUS, 1:44.482; 3. Natalie Geisenberger, GER, 1:44.784; 4. Alex Gough, Calgary, CAN, 1:44.418; 5. Corinna Martini, GER, 1:44.955.
Other Canadian Results:
7. Dayna Clay, Calgary, 1:45.372; 10. Arianne Jones, Calgary, 1:45.521