WHISTLER, B.C.—The veterans of the Canadian Luge Team, Sam Edney, Alex Gough along with Tristan Walker and Justin Snith, were crowned Canadian champs on Saturday in Whistler, B.C.
The 32-year-old Sam Edney proved he is still the best in the country in men’s singles. The Calgarian, who returned to the national program this fall after taking one year off to attend school, was forced to put down the fastest run of the day (50.435) in his second trip down the Olympic track at the Whistler Sliding Centre to take the gold with a time of 1:41.050.
“Overall its’ been a great two weeks on ice. It has been validation for me that it was the right move on my part to take last year off, but also to come back and keep going to Korea. This has been a great test to see where I’m at,” said Edney, who completed his commerce degree last year.
“I got to the point where my body couldn’t push itself mentally and physically anymore. To be in a different place and better mindset over the last year was a breath of fresh air. It brought a lot of perspective as to why I love sport and wanted to be back.
“My sliding has shown I’m not as far off as we may have thought. Mentally I feel in the right place. I know there are things to improve. We are 480 days away from the Games, but I know the work that needs to be done between now and then. The positive is I’m in a good place and feeling refreshed.”
The three-time Olympian sat in second position behind Mitchel Malyk after his first blast down the 16-corner track. Edney cleaned things up in the final heat to reclaim the national crown. Calgary’s Malyk held on for second place at 1:41.113.
“You see today where our program is at. Mitch put the pressure on me in the first run. It made me have that gut check time, and got the juices flowing again. That’s why I love this sport,” added Edney, who added he was proud to watch Malyk step up last year and win World Cup and World Championship medals with the relay team.
“To not only see the success Mitch had last year, but to see the young guys who are from Whistler coming up behind us is showing the depth of our program. It does take a lot of pressure off me, but it adds pressure too. It is great to know Mitch can step into the relay team and win medals, but ultimately, I want to be winning individual and team medals too. It is going to be a great couple of years.”
Whistler’s hometown boy, Reid Watts, finished third. The 17 year old, who won the bronze medal at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games, clocked a two-run time of 1:41.516.
Meanwhile, Alex Gough proved she remains the Queen of Canadian luge after taking top spot in the women’s national championship race for the eighth time in her career. The 29-year-old Calgarian, and most successful athlete in the history of the program, posted the top two times en route to sliding into the winner’s circle at 1:17.828.
“It was really nice to get back into racing mode,” said Gough, who recently got married in early October. “Kim and the other girls are getting closer and giving me a good push. I’m excited to be back this year for a full season, and feel pretty good going into it.”
Two other Calgarians slid into the silver and bronze medal positions on the podium. Kim McRae was second at 1:17.981. Rachel Klassen locked up the bronze medal at 1:18.126.
Canada’s top doubles squad of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith are in fine form heading into the pre-Olympic season. The Calgary-based duo posted a personal best start time at 3.284 and a new track record at 38.734 in their first rip down the Whistler Sliding Centre. The fourth-place finishers at the 2014 Olympics won the gold in doubles with a combined time of 1:17.529.
“It was nice to pull a personal best start and get the track record,” said the 25-year-old Walker. “We are working on some new equipment and have a ways to go developing what we will be on this year, but it’s nice to see we can still be competitive on our old stuff.”
It was the seventh straight Canadian Championship title in doubles racing for the two-time Olympians.
“It was really good to be in a race situation and back on the sled after such a long summer in the gym,” said Snith. “Overall I’m really happy with today – especially the starts. It is a good indication of where we are at physically right now, and I think we still have a little more in the tank.”
British Columbia teenagers, Matt Riddle and Adam Shippit, were second in doubles at 1:18.876.
The World Cup season officially kicks off, November 26, in Winterberg, Germany.