Kim McRae matches season-best fifth place finish in women’s race
ALTENBERG, Ger.–The world will be enjoying chocolate on this Valentine’s Day, but silver will be equally sweet for Canada’s luge team thanks to a season-best performance in the team relay at the World Cup in Altenberg, Germany on Sunday.
Led by Victoria-born Kim McRae, Calgary’s 20-year-old Mitch Malyk and the veteran doubles sled of Justin Snith (Calgary) and Tristan Walker (Cochrane, Alta.), the Canadians combined to earn their first team relay medal without veteran Alex Gough on the three-sled squad who returned home to complete her year of engineering school at the University of Calgary.
The new-look Canucks clocked a silver-medal winning time of 2:24.50.
“Winning the silver in the relay was unreal,” beamed McRae. “I am very proud of the boys and what we accomplished as a team. I put down a solid run and the second fastest start for the women. The boys picked up time on the way down. It was a fantastic feeling to be a part of the team, and helping Canada win that silver medal today.”
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.
“All three sleds had good starts, good runs and great transition times today. I’m happy to see we can perform without Alex and Sam (Edney, who is taking the year off to recover from an injury), said Wolfgang Staudinger, head coach, Canadian Luge Team. “This result today is very promising, and shows we are in a good place for the future.”
Germany won the gold medal with a time of 2:24.204. Latvia slid to the bronze with a time of 2:24.982.
The Canadians have been a force to reckon with in the relay since its inception. They finished a heartbreaking fourth in the race format at its Olympic debut in Sochi. They have struggled to find the podium since with Sam taking the year off, but enjoyed a breakthrough last week at the World Championships where they won the bronze.
Sunday was the first career medal in the relay for the 23-year-old McRae.
The Calgary resident had good vibes heading into the relay after matching a season-best fifth-place finish in the women’s singles event earlier in the day.
Taking advantage of the second and third-fastest start times in her two runs, McRae punched the clock at 1:46.886.
“Today is honestly a relief,” said McRae. “The last two years have been tough for sure. The rest of the world has not been standing still so it has been difficult to make it into the top-10 in the women’s filed, never mind talking about medals.”
It certainly has been a long road back to the podium for McRae since shocking the world by cracking the World Cup podium for the first time two years ago in Altenberg, Germany when she was third – just days before making her Olympic debut in Sochi. McRae proved her bronze medal was no fluke after finishing fifth at the Games.
“Today goes to show hard work can pay off. From pulling 15th-place starts for many of the races this year, I was able to put together top start times in the women’s race,” added McRae. “I hope to continue building on what I learned this week. I know the competition is fierce this year, but I am going to keep putting the work in. That is the first step.”
Germany’s Tatjana Huefner won the women’s race with a time 1:46.379. Latvia’s Eliza Cauce slid to the silver medal at 1:46.590, while Russia’s Tatiana Ivanova rounded out the women’s podium in third at 1:46.692.
Calgary’s Arianne Jones was the only other Canadian in the women’s field and finished 14th at 1:47.524.
The Canadian Luge Team now travels to Winterberg, Germany for the final World Cup of the season.
Top-Five Relay Results:
1. Germany, 2:24.204; 2. Canada, 2:24.550; 3. Latvia, 2:24.982; 4. Russia, 2:25.122; 5. Italy, 2:25.397
Women’s Top-Five and Canadian Results:
1. Tatjana Huefner, GER, 1:46.379; 2. Eliza Cauce, LAT, 1:46.590; 3. Tatiana Ivanova, RUS, 1:46.692; 4. Natalie Geisenberger, GER, 1:46.785; 5. Kim McRae, Calgary, CAN, 1:46.886
14. Arianne Jones, Calgary, 1:47.524