PYEONGCHANG, Kor.—Canada’s Kim McRae along with doubles team of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith will be looking to find fractions of a second over the next year in an effort to hop onto the Olympic podium after sixth-place finishes in the World Cup test event on Saturday in Pyeongchang, Korea.
Calgary’s McRae, who won a bronze medal at the recent World Championships, was the top Canuck in the women’s singles event with a time of 1:34.285.
“It was up and down and one of those crazy races where everyone in the women’s field had mistakes coming down the hill so it was an interesting one,” said McRae.
Similar to her World Championship breakthrough, the 24-year was 10th after her first run, but climbed four spots up the standings after posting the fourth fastest down time in the final heat.
“Consistency is really important on this track. Definitely need two consistent runs,” added McRae, who had the sixth fastest start times in both runs. “Essentially I just tried to minimize the mistakes and keep the sled somewhat straight. The big thing for me here is to have faster starts and gain more time in the mid section.
“It’s a big step forward to be in the top-six and know I can be there at the Games if I can clean up the runs that I had.”
Russia’s Tatyana Ivanova clocked a golden time of 1:33.648. Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger was second at 1:33.694, while Julia Taubitz, also of Germany, slid to the bronze medal at 1:33.910.
Calgary’s Alex Gough was making a charge to the podium after posting the fastest opening run start time at 4.312. The three-time Olympian was in second until a huge mistake at bottom section of the track dropped her to 18th in the first run.
The most successful luge athlete in Canadian history continued the fight, posting the second fastest start in the final heat, propelling her to the third quickest down time. Gough finished 14th overall at 1:34.826.
Calgary’s Brooke Apshkrum did not finish her second run.
Canada’s doubles team of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith had a solid sixth-place outing of their own on Saturday in Korea.
Fast starts and consistent sliding led the 25-year-old Calgarians to a time of 1:34.013.
“It went surprisingly well because we really struggled with the two weeks of training here,” said Walker. “The hardest parts were curve nine and 13 but we got into a different mindset today, and had two mostly straight runs down the pipe. That was the key today.”
Battling with consistency to start the season, the fourth-place finishers at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games have been knocking on the door of the international podium with faster starts and more consistency – a critical ingredient on the finicky track in Pyeongchang that can shake up the standings in a blink of an eye.
“The key here is consistency. From top to bottom it is going to be whoever puts the two cleanest runs together – who can lay it out there on the given day – is going to be on the podium,” added Snith. “It is a good feeling to know we can do that when it counts, and a confidence booster but there is a lot of time between now and next year.”
Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won doubles gold after posting the two quickest runs for a total time of 1:33.581. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt slid to the silver at 1:33.793. Robin Johannes Geueke and David Gamm completed the German sweep of the doubles podium with a time of 1:33.831.