(ISN) – IGLS, Aut.—Canada’s Kim McRae picked up where she left off from a breakthrough season one year ago by challenging for the podium on Saturday at the World Cup luge season-opener where she was sixth in Igls, Austria.
Sitting in fourth spot after the opening bomb down the relatively flat 10-corner track in Igls, the 22-year-old Calgarian dropped two spots to finish sixth with a combined time of one minute, 20.398 seconds (1:20.398).
“Overall today was a great placing and I am looking to use this to build on and improve from here,” said McRae who is the lone Canadian woman starting the opening World Cup with Alex Gough racing a condensed season while taking engineering classes at the University of Calgary.
“I generally like driving tracks. Igls makes me slow down and try and focus on slide techniques like positioning. It was not up to par today. Going forward into the season, I need to work on my position, continuing to work on the start as well as just driving the sled consistently. I had those basics down at the end of last year so I know I can do it and continuing the work. Once those basics in sliding are good, we’ll see where I end up.”
McRae first introduced herself to the world last year where she regularly mixed it up with the world’s best in the top-10 of the standings including her first career podium when she was third in Altenberg, Germany – sharing the podium with teammate Alex Gough who was second – just weeks before making her Olympic debut. The Canadian girls were back at it again in Sochi. With Gough expected to threaten for the medals in fourth spot, it was the underdog McRae who handle the pressure of the Games like a cagy veteran where she was on Gough’s heels in fifth place.
“I did put pressure on myself today whether I wanted to or not – it was there subconsciously,” added McRae. “But even with the pressure I am just trying to stay focused and continue to enjoy the sport while putting the hard work in.”
The Germans swept the podium, and grabbed the top four spots in the women’s standings. Natalie Geisenberger slid to the gold with a time of 1:19.822. Dajana Eitberger was second at 1:20.031, while Tatajana Hufner clocked-in at 1:20.040 for the bronze.
Meanwhile, Canada’s doubles tandem of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith got their long journey to the 2018 Olympics off to a slow start. Walker (Cochrane, Alta.) and Snith (Calgary) crashed in their opening trip down the Igls track and used the second run for training purposes. The Canadian duo, who were fourth at the 2014 Olympics, placed 19th at 1:23.594.
Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken slid to the gold medal with a time of 1:19.330. Russia’s Vladislav Yuzhakov and Vladimir Prokhorov were second at 1:19.835, while Austria’s Peter Penz and Georg Fischler rounded out the doubles podium in third place with a time of 1:19.850.
The World Cup continues on Sunday in Igls with the men’s singles races.
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.