IGLS, Aut—Kim McRae slid her way into the history books as just the second Canadian ever to reach the individual podium at a Luge World Championships.
The 24-year-old Calgarian celebrated the bronze medal in the women’s singles event on Saturday in Igls, Austria after clocking a two-run time of 1:19.952.
“It is pretty incredible. After that first run I thought I had no chance,” said McRae, who made a costly mistake sliding too early into corner nine. “It honestly didn’t cross my mind at all that I could be a medallist today heading into the last run. I was two-tenths behind and just thought I was out of it.”
McRae, who was fifth at her Olympic debut in 2014, joins teammate Alex Gough as the only two Canadians to reach the singles podium at the premiere race in a non-Olympic year. Calgary’s Gough first made history in 2011 when she also captured the bronze in Cesana, Italy. Gough was third two years later as well when the Worlds were contested in Whistler.
“That is pretty cool and quite an honour. I’m honestly speechless,” added McRae. “I took a huge step forward this year. I think this shows all of the work we put in training this year is paying off. It really is amazing.”
Gough and McRae having been writing quite a story over the last four years in Canadian luge. They became the first Canadians ever to share a World Cup podium in the sport in 2014 when McRae captured her first medal – a bronze. They were at it again earlier this year when McRae slid to the silver and Gough a bronze in Lake Placid.
The two Canadians were once again the focus of the story on Saturday. Gough, a three-time Olympian, was looking to add to her legendary resume when she was sitting in third place after the opening run on the 10-corner track. McRae appeared out of things in 10th. But the two Canucks flipped results in their final trip down the relatively short and flat Igls track where McRae rocked the fastest start time in the final heat, and stormed to the bronze medal.
“The start honestly has been the big difference for me this year,” said McRae, who had the second fastest start in the first run. “We worked really hard on it in the summer. I have been healthy throughout this year body wise so I have really been able to push it body wise and it is definitely showing.
“I didn’t do anything major different in the second run. I just put down the same runs as training all week, let the sled run and it worked out.”
Gough was forced to settle for fifth place overall with a time of 1:20.001.
Germany’s Tatjana Huefner won the women’s World Championship title with a time of 1:19.712. Erin Hamlin, of the United States, was second at 1:19.925.
The doubles race is set for Saturday afternoon. Men’s singles and the team relay are slated for Sunday.