SIGULDA, Lat.—Kim McRae put down the best result of her career in Sigulda, Latvia where she finished fifth at the Luge World Cup on Saturday.
The two-time World Cup medallist from Calgary mixed together two consistent starts and solid descents down the 13 corner track that has given the Canadian squad many of headaches over the years. McRae, 24, clocked in at 1:23.845.
“I’m definitely happy with this finish. We are in Sigulda so anything can happen for anyone here,” said McRae. “It is one of the more technical tracks we slide on. It is fun and challenging, but you need two clean runs here to be in the mix. I was able to do that today for the most part.
“I think the difference today were my starts. Both runs it helped keep the velocity over the top part of the track. I made a couple of mistakes near the bottom, but the velocity created at the top allowed me to still maintain my speed and didn’t cost me too much.”
A fifth-place finisher at the 2014 Olympics, McRae has been rounding back into top form this year where she captured her second career World Cup podium in women’s singles in Lake Placid, and is consistently at the top of the standings.
“It has been a very progressive season for me and I’m pretty happy about things,” added McRae. “I feel like I’m now sitting regularly with the top of the field, but I know there is room to still improve. I want to be a little more consistent and take every day the same – whether it is training or competition.”
The Germans grabbed the top two spots on the women’s podium. Natalie Geisenberger won for the second-straight week with a two-run time of 1:23.485. Tatjana Huefner slid to the silver medal with a time of 1:23.513. Russia’s Tatyana Ivanova was leading after the first run, but dropped into third after a costly mistake near the bottom of the track in her final trip down the 998-metre track. Ivanova posted a time of 1:23.616.
Canada’s Alex Gough was dealt some unfortunate luck in her first run on Saturday. Sitting comfortably after a strong start and solid run, the three-time Olympian’s next strap broke in the second last corner, which give her whiplash and dropped her way down into the standings.
Nursing a sore neck, the 29-yearold Gough pulled it together for the second run where she finished 13th at 1:24.476.
“It was a bit of tough luck for Alex with the next strap breaking in the highest pressure corner,” said Wolfgang Staudinger, head coach, Canadian Luge Team. “We are happy for her to finish where she did because it guarantees her in a seeded spot at World Championships. She was consistent and quick in training all week, but it was just bad luck today. It happens!”
It was a rough day for Canada’s doubles team of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith who finished in 18th place in doubles racing with a time of 1:27.054.
The Calgary-based duo, who have struggled to put two clean runs together this year, were sitting in eighth place after the first run. They were not able to take advantage of pulling the second-fastest start in the final heat. A huge mistake in the bottom portion of the track dropped them well back into the standings.
“We just can’t make silly mistakes and that is what happened with the doubles today,” said Staudinger. “The reality is if we could be more consistent we would be right in the mix, but this is reflective of our capability at this time. We are training the same way as we are racing and we must change this and become more consistent.”
Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken set the time to beat at 1:23.113. Latvia’s Oskars Gudramovics and Peteris Kalnins slid to the silver after chalking up the second fastest runs in both heats with a time of 1:23.476. Italy’s Ludwig Rieder and Patrick Rastner won the bronze medal with a time of 1:23.808.
The Viessmann Luge World Cup continues on Sunday in Latvia with the men’s singles and team relay events.
Women’s Singles Results:
- Natalie Geisenberger, GER, 1:23.485; 2. Tatjana Huefner, GER, 1:23.513; 3. Tatyana Ivanova, RUS, 1:23.616; 4. Victoria Demchenko, RUS, 1:23.784; 5. Kim McRae, Calgary, CAN, 1:23.845.
Other Canadian Results:
- Alex Gough, Calgary, 1:24.476
- Toni Eggert/Sascha Benecken, GER, 1:23.113; 2. Oskars Gudramovics/Peteris Kalnins, LAT, 1:23.476; 3. Ludwig Rieder/Patrick Raster, ITA, 1:23.808; 4. Vladislav Yuzhakov/Iurii Prokhorov, RUS, 1:23.912; 5. Christian Oberstolz/Patrick Gruber, ITA, 1:23.916.
- Tristan Walker, Cochrane, Alta./Justin Sinth, Calgary, 1:27.054