January 9, 2014 (ISN) – This past weekend was filled with gold-medal moments for some of Canada’s top winter World Cup athletes. But it was a history-making moment in Königgsee, Germany that led to Tristan Walker and Justin Snith taking Athlete of the Week honours as the duo slid to Canada’s first-ever World Cup medal in doubles luge.
The breakthrough has been long-awaited and came as part of the most successful weekend in the history of the Canadian luge program. In addition to the bronze won by Walker and Snith, Alex Gough captured bronze in the women’s singles event and then those two sleds joined with men’s singles racer Sam Edney to take silver in the team relay.
It was the third silver in five World Cup races this season for Canada in the team relay, which will make its Olympic debut at Sochi 2014. But it was the doubles podium that was producing the buzz.
“They were overdue,” said Canadian head coach Wolfgang Staudinger. “To be fourth over and over again, you know it is just a matter of time and great to see it happen.”
“It is awesome and especially to do it here in Königssee, which is a home-away-from-home for us,” said Walker. “We spend a lot of time here and it is always the first place we go to after Christmas. I had a feeling when we’d finally do it that it would be either here or in Canada. It was pretty tense watching the splits come down the track. Standing in the leaders’ box it was a feeling of relief and excitement.”
Walker and Snith had been sitting in fourth place after the first of two runs. But consistency was key and they had two nearly identical times of 50.359 and 50.350 to secure the medal.
Prior to striking the podium, Walker and Snith had produced four fourth place finishes, including one at the 2013 World Championships and another at last year’s World Cup stop in Sochi that was the official Olympic test event.
“I just can’t believe it,” said Snith. “I’m at a loss for words. It is so nice to see the hard work that we have put in pay off. It’s just huge for us to get a podium before Sochi. We knew we could be there, but to actually do it is nice confirmation.”
There are still three more World Cup stops on the schedule before Sochi. Next up are two more tracks in Germany, Oberhof (January 11-12) and Altenberg (January 18-19), followed by Sigulda, Latvia (January 25-26).