Reid Watts photo by Adam Taber
—Canadian relay squad narrowly misses podium in fourth on World Cup—
Konigssee, GER.—Reid Watts added his name to a growing list of British Columbia athletes that are winning medals in the sliding sports around the globe.
The 17-year-old Whistler, B.C. resident proved the pool of talented athletes is getting deeper on Canada’s West Coast after turning heads with a bronze medal at the Youth World Cup in Konigssee, Germany on Saturday. Watts posted a two-run time of 1:42.649 in men’s singles racing.
“I had a really good week of training, and I knew if I pulled two fast starts and had minimal mistakes on the way down I’d be in the hunt for a good result,” said Watts.
It was the first international medal for Watts in singles racing. He and fellow Whistler-based teammate Matt Riddle racked up two wins and one bronze-medal finish to become the first Canadians ever to win the youth doubles overall World Cup title last year.
Watts shared the podium with Germany’s Thomas Jaensch who was first with a time of 1:42.244, while Austria’s Bastian Schulte slid to the silver at 1:42.529.
Niky Klimchuk-Brown was ninth at 1:42.238.
With Watts focusing on singles, his former doubles partner Matt Riddle was teamed up with another medal-winning British Columbia boy who won the youth men’s overall title last year – Adam Shippit of Pemberton. The Canadian duo slid to seventh in doubles at 1:36.250 on Saturday..
Germany’s Tobias Heinze and Maximillian Illman won the race with a time of 1:33.689.
The baby Canucks on the West Coast have been producing some stellar results, just six years since being introduced to the sport through the 2010 Olympic Winter Games being held in their backyards.
Jenna Spencer, of Pemberton, was the first athlete from British Columbia to put her name in the history books when she finished second overall on the Youth World Cup in 2013.
“These results continue to demonstrate the development of the high-performance culture being established in Whistler,” said Walter Corey, high-performance director, Canadian Luge Association, who relocated to Whistler to grow the sport on Canada’s West Coast. “This track and the services in this area are critical for producing medal winners at all levels in the sliding sports. The accomplishments of these young kids is an inspiration to our local athletes, and continued proof that if Canadian athletes have access to world-leading resources and facilities, programs can develop, and we will, deliver more medal winners for Canada.”
Meanwhile back in North America, the top Canuck sliders were back in World Cup action on the challenging Lake Placid track.
With Alex Gough taking the week off to attend school, Victoria-born Kim McRae slid into the top-15. McRae, who was fifth at the 2014 Olympics, placed 14th at 1:29.153.
The American women swept the podium. Erin Hamlin finished on top with a time of 1:27.961. Emily Sweeney was second at 1:28.136, while Summer Britcher completed the sweep in the bronze-medal position with a time of 1:28.221.
McRae then went back to the top of the track to help Canada’s new-look relay squad slide to an impressive fourth-place finish.
McRae, along with Mitch Malyk and Tristan Walker and Justin Snith teamed up to clock a time of 2:33.924.
“None of us are happy. We are all expecting to be on the podium regardless of who makes up the team,” said Justin Snith, who added this same team raced together last year in Lake Placid where they also finished fourth. “We know we can be there on the podium. We just need to get the little things down. We have to look at where we can improve and get it done because we all want to be on the podium.”
The Americans defended their home track in Lake Placid with a time of 2:232.767. Latvia was second at 2:33.638, while Russia slid to the bronze medal at 2:33.695.
Calgary’s Tristan Walker and Justin Snith slid to 14th in doubles on Friday with a tiem of 1:29.104. Calgary’s Mitch Malyk was 22nd 1:44.276, while John Fennell, also of Calgary, was 25th (1:44.795) in men’s singles.