by Chris Dornan
January 19, 2014, ALTENBERG, Ger. (ISN) – Canada’s luge athletes are on a roll heading into the 2014 Olympic Winter Games after rattling off three medals in one day for the first time ever at a Luge World Cup in Altenberg, Germany on Sunday.
The medal string started in a historic women’s singles race with two Canadians climbing onto the podium. Alex Gough won the silver, while fellow-Calgarian Kimberley McRae shocked the world to win her first-career medal with the bronze.
“That was badass today,” said Wolfgang Staudinger, head coach, Canadian Luge Team. “We have worked very hard over the last three years as a team and when you do the work you know sometimes it works and sometimes it will not. Things came together today. It is unbelievable and just fantastic!”
It is rare two countries outside of Germany ever stand on the women’s podium, but fitting it was Canada. The 26-year-old Alex Gough was the first woman to knock off the Germans 105-straight race victory on the World Cup three years ago. On Sunday she and teammate McRae stole the spotlight once again. Gough, who is making her third trip to the Olympics in Sochi racked up her 16th career medal after winning the silver in Altenberg with at two-run time of 1:47.006.
“I definitely didn’t expect that,” said Gough. “Weather played a big factor today. It was warm and the track slowed down a lot for the higher sleds, but this is a big day for our program. I think seeing your teammates do well does a lot for everyone to know it is not only the Germans that can get on the podium. To have two athletes from another country on the women’s podium is very rare.”
Showing promise with constant improvement over the last three years, the 21-year-old McRae had a rollercoaster day in Altenberg en route to winning her first career medal. Sitting in fourth place after her first bomb down the challenging German track, McRae dropped one spot in her second run to fifth, but then climbed two spots up into third as the higher-seeded sleds faltered behind her. McRae clocked in at 1:47.030.
“Standing in the finish area beside Alex my heart was just hammering,” said McRae, who was sixth two weeks ago in Konigssee. “I remember watching the Russian and saying to Alex ‘I could move into third.’ I just started jumping for joy. It was amazing. To share it with Alex is pretty cool. Watching her get on the podium over the last few years has really helped me. It tells me l can do it and it is not always the same athletes that win.”
Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger won the women’s race with a time of 1:46.332. Calgary’s Arianne Jones placed 11th at 1:47.426.
Meanwhile, the track to the podium continued in the team relay competition for the Canucks. Led by Gough, the team of Sam Edney, along with Tristan Walker and Justin Snith, continued their dominance in the newest Olympic discipline with a second-place finish after posting a time of 2:26.191.
“It is a huge day for luge in Canada,” said the 22-year-old Justin Snith. “A three medal day is the first time for our program, and the first time Canada can ever say it came out of a day on the World Cup with more medals than the Germans.”
Russia won the relay at 2:25.570, while Germany hung on for the bronze with a time of 2:26.303.
“We have always been labeled the underdog and part of that comes with you having to work for it, and we have done that which I think helps,” added Snith. “We know we are now a legitimate medal shot in Sochi, but we are not getting ahead of ourselves. Getting to this point has not been easy and we, likely more than anyone, know nothing is a given and we need to continue working hard. If we do that – the results will come.”
The Canadians now head to Sigulda, Latvia for the final World Cup before the Olympic Winter Games.
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, 1:46.332; 2. Alex Gough, Calgary, CAN, 1:47.006; 3. Kimberley McRae, Calgary, 1:47.030; 4. Tatjana Hufner, GER, 1:47.072; 5. Dajana Eitberger, GER, 1:47.081
Other Canadian Results:
11. Arianne Jones, Calgary, 1:47.426
Team Relay Results:
1. Russia, 2:25.570; 2. Canada, 2:26.191; 3. Germany, 2:26.303; 4. Latvia, 2:27.510; 5. Slovakia, 2:27.641