Mitch Malyk solid in 12th in men’s singles before winning first career medal in team relay
KONIGSSEE, Ger.–Canada’s top luge athletes earned some sweet redemption on Sunday, winning the bronze medal in the team relay event on the final day of the Luge World Championships in Konigssee, Germany.
Coming off a disappointing Saturday, the new look Canadian relay team featuring 20-year-old Mitch Malyk, Alex Gough along with Tristan Walker and Justin Snith captured their first ever medal together while sliding to third when it counted the most.
The Calgarians clocked a combined time of 2:45.907 on one of their favourite tracks in the land of Bavaria, which throws a little of everything at the world’s best including long straightaways, tight and long free flowing corners.
“It (bronze medal) definitely takes a little of the sting away from yesterday, but not all of it,” said Snith, who along with teammate Tristan Walker were in medal contention in the doubles race Satrduay before letting it slip away on their final run.
“We could have had a run like that yesterday. This shows it is completely within our ability. I’m glad we were able to do it on command today when it matters.”
The relay is a one-run bomb race consisting of one women’s, one men’s and one doubles sled. Athletes hit a pad hanging over the track after crossing the finish line, which opens the start gate for the next team member.
It was the first career medal for Malyk who replaced three-time Olympian, Sam Edney, on the men’s singles sled for Canada’s relay team this year. Edney took the year off to recover from a nagging injury.
“It is absolutely unbelievable and really hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Malyk. “I knew I had big shoes to fill this year, and I’ve been working really hard to try and fill them. There is obviously a little extra pressure on me in the relay. I just tried to focus on having clean runs. We’ve been so close all season, but little mistakes have cost us. It was nice to get the monkey off the back and do it today.”
“It is always a team effort in this race,” added Snith. “Mitch has come a long way this year, and he is proof our program is continuing to develop younger talent. He has worked hard on his sliding, and it is good to see Mitch get on the podium with us.”
The Germans captured the World Championship title on their home track with a time of 2:44.062. Latvia punched the clock at 2:45.614 to win the silver.
Canada’s relay squad has won back-to-back bronze medals at the World Championships since a heartbreaking Olympics in 2014 where they were nudged off the podium by the Latvians, putting them in fourth when the relay made its debut at the Games in Sochi, Russia.
It was a memorable weekend for the youngster, Mitch Malyk. Earlier in the day the young Canuck also put down his career-best World Championship result when he was 12th in men’s singles. Malyk was nearly flawless on his first run down the 16-corner men’s singles luge track where he sat ninth, but dropped three spots in the final heat to post a two-run time of 1:40.529.
“My second run wasn’t what I wanted so I had a little fire in my belly to have one more good run in the relay,” said Malyk. “Heading into World Championships I just wanted to have consistent runs and not focus on the result. It was a great day.”
Germany’s Felix Loch clocked the fastest time in each of the two runs to claim the title of World Champion. Lock set the golden standard at 1:38.864. Germany’s Ralf Palik was second at 1:39.287, while Austria’s Wolfgang Kindl slid to the bronze medal with a time of 1:39.553.
Canada’s 17-year-old rookie, Reid Watts of Whistler, B.C., finished 29th and did not qualify for the second run with the top-20 athletes.
Top-Five Relay Results:
1. Germany, 2:44.062; 2. Latvia, 2:45.614; 3. Canada, 2:45.907; 4. Russia, 2:46.105; 5. USA, 2:46.145
Men’s Top-Five and Canadian Results:
1. Felix Loch, GER, 1:38.864; 2. Ralf Palik, GER, 1:39.287; 3. Wolfgang Kindl, AUT, 1:39.553; 4. Chris Mazdzer, USA, 1:39.733; 5. Andi Langenhan, GER, 1:39.869
12. Mitch Malyk, Calgary, 1:40.529; 29. Reid Watts, Whistler, B.C., DNQ