Racing at home in the third World Cup event of the season, the locals got things underway in the doubles competition where Tristan Walker and Justin Snith grabbed bronze with a time of 1:28.014. Germans – as they often do in this sport – finished first and second with Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken (1:27806) beating Sochi 2014 Olympic gold medallists Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt (1:27.845).
“We were hoping coming off last season with our first podium, and to be so close at the Olympics, that we’d be pushing for the medals this year,” Walker said in a Luge Canada release. Canada experienced three fourth place results in luge at Sochi, a difficult outcome for a tight-knit team that had an Olympic podium breakthrough in their sights.
Justin Snith (left) & Tristan Walker via @lugecanada on Instagram, photo by Todd Korol.
Walker and Snith were the first Canadians to make a World Cup podium this season but on this night at Canada Olympic Park they wouldn’t be alone.
While the unstoppable German Olympic champion Natalie Geisenberger won her third straight World Cup race with a time of 1:33.860, she received stiff competition from a couple of Canadians who would later flank her on the women’s podium.
Alex Gough won silver in the women’s race just 0.058 seconds behind Geisenberger with 1:33.918. The Canadian jubilation doubled when Arianne Jones secured her first ever World Cup podium with a bronze medal-winning time of 1:34.274.
Alex Gough via @lugecanada on Instagram, photo by Todd Korol.
“I had a few nerves, but when it came down to racing and getting in the start handles all that falls away,” Gough said on Friday. She is currently balancing school with her athletic ambitions, missing the first two World Cup races, but saw Friday’s outcome as “positive reinforcement” of that decision. Gough finished second overall in World Cup standings for the 2013-14 season and is Canada’s most consistent podium threat in luge.
Like Gough, Jones is also from Calgary and explained how the home track suited her fine on Friday.
“I have had tonnes of runs here. I feel super comfortable here. I know how to drive these lines and I just tried to push my position to the furthest I could.”
Canada will have a chance to add to an already impressive medal haul on Saturday when the men’s event takes place in Calgary, which is the final World Cup spot until January in the 2014-15 season.