December 7, 2013, WHISTLER, B.C. (ISN) – Canada’s luge athletes wrapped the Whistler Sliding Centre Track in silver on Saturday night.
Led by Canada’s most accomplished luge athlete, Alex Gough captured the first career World Cup silver-medal winning performance in the women’s singles race to kick off the celebration. After a quick break, the two-time Olympian was back at it again, leading the Canadian relay team onto the second spot of the World Cup podium to cap off a stellar weekend in Whistler.
Gough pulled the two fastest starts on a bitterly cold night in Whistler where she went on to celebrate her best-ever result on the 2010 Olympic Track after clocking a two-run time of 1:13.412.
“It is my second best result ever, and best in Whistler, so that’s awesome,” said Gough, who has two career World Cup victories. “It is always nice to get on the podium, but it is definitely a good feeling to have my best result ever on this track.”
A cold blast from Mother Nature wreaked havoc for the world’s best luge athletes’ sled preparation, as the ice on the 16-corner track was hard and fast. Gough fought through a couple of skids to hold on to her first career silver medal.
“I felt really good at the start. I pulled really good starts,” said Gough. “The second run wasn’t as great as I wanted it to be, but I put it together, had two good consistent runs, and got the result I wanted.”
While Gough disrupted the German domination of the Whistler Sliding Centre, she came up a little short in her bid to be the first country outside of Germany to stand on top of the podium this week on Canada’s west coast. Natalie Geisenberger clocked a golden time of 1:13.412.
Anke Wischnewski, also of Germany, was third at 1:13.622.
The silver medal adds another chapter to Gough’s historic run to Sochi where she has won 13 World Cup medals – 11 of them coming since the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
The trail of accomplishments for the two-time Olympian are 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. She matched that accomplishment one year ago on home ice when Whistler hosted the premiere race on the elite circuit. Gough’s incredible ride continued in 2012 where she became the first Canadian luge athlete to win a gold medal on her home track in Calgary.
Three other Calgary-based Canadian women also suited up for the fourth World Cup stop on the road to Sochi. Kim McRae had a solid outing in 11th spot at 1:14.063. Arianne Jones cracked the top-15, placing 14th with a time of 1:14.163, while Jordan Smith finished in 17th position at 1:14.289.
The medal-winning show continued into the evening as the four-member Canadian Luge Team bounced back from a disqualification in the relay last weekend to win their second silver medal in the newest Olympic discipline.
Gough, Sam Edney, along with Tristan Walker and Justin Snith joined forces to clock a combined time of 2:04.202.
“It is great to show we are able to come back this week and get back onto the podium after what happened in Winterberg,” said Edney. “I love the relay format. I know I have the fastest girl in front of me so when I pull out of the handles I know I am already in the lead, and then I have one of the best doubles teams sliding the anchor so I just feel so relaxed doing this event.”
Germany won the third relay of the season with a time of 2:03.791. Austria grabbed the bronze at 2:04.686.
Included in the 2014 Olympic line-up, the team competition 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 won two World Cup relay competitions. They were poised to complete the hat trick last weekend as they were in the lead before being disqualified when the doubles sled of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith broke the start gate too early.
“We were a little more nervous than usual tonight,” said the 22-year-old Walker, of Cochrane, Alta. “It is funny because we thought our reaction time on the start was really delayed tonight, but it was actually bang on because we didn’t go early. It is great to be able to come back and now we have to continue working hard to close that Gap on the Germans.”
The Canadian team now travels to Park City, Utah for the final World Cup stop prior to the holiday break. The Canadian Luge Association will nominate its Olympic Team following the Park City World Cup on December 17, 2013 in Calgary.
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
Women’s Top-Five and Canadian Results:
1. Natalie Geisenberger, GER, 1:13:412; 2. Alex Gough, Calgary, CAN, 1:13.545; 3. Anke Wischnewski, GER, 1:13.622; 4. Tatjana Hufner, GER, 1:13.645; 5. Erin Hamlin, USA, 1:13.803.
Other Canadian Results:
11. Kimberley McRae, Calgary, 1:14.063; 14. Arianne Jones, Calgary, 1:14.163; 17. Jordan Smith, Calgary, 1:14.289.
Top-Five Team Relay Results:
1. Germany, 2:03.791; 2. Canada, 2:04.202; 3. Austria, 2:04.686; 4. USA, 2:04.769; 5. Italy, 2:05.032.