Alex Gough and Kim McRae delivered an early Christmas present to the Canadian luge community, bringing home the silver and bronze medals from the World Cup in Lake Placid, NY on Saturday.
The queens of Canadian luge from Calgary switched spots on the podium to match their performance from one year ago on the highly-technical and punishing 16-corner track in Lake Placid that demands the best of the world’s elite sliders.
“It is always fun to be on the podium, and it is way more fun to be there with a teammate,” said the 30-year-old Gough. “It was a lot of fun for Kim and I to be up there together today.”
Feeding off a triple-medal performance on home ice in Calgary one week ago, and a bronze medal breakthrough by the doubles tandem of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith on Friday, Gough and McRae made a statement of their own in the women’s singles race.
Gough won her second-straight silver medal with a time of 1:28.315. McRae slid to her first podium of the year, clocking a third-place time of 1:28.352.
“We were all so happy for the doubles team to have a good race yesterday,” added Gough. “It built excitement within the team and we wanted to follow that up with a good result today.”
Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger held off the Canadian charge to win the gold medal with a time of 1:28.211.
Gough put down the second-fastest down time in the first heat on the 1,135-metre channel of ice that winds its way down Mount Hoevenberg, and held on for the silver medal with her Canadian comrade charging up the leaderboard.
“This is a technical track that has sections you just need to get. We only got four training runs this week so we had to figure it out quickly. These results leave us with good confidence going into the New Year. We are excited to have time off and then go to Konigssee which is a track we all enjoy,” added Gough.
Similar to her bronze-medal performance at last year’s World Championships, the 25-year-old McRae stormed onto the podium in her second decent while posting the fastest run time at 44.120.
“My runs have been all over the place. I wanted to just go and throw down two clean runs. The first run was a lot of fun, and the results were so tight so I knew I wasn’t out of it,” said McRae, who was in sixth place after the first run. “I told myself to ‘just go for it’ in the second run, and it was one of the best runs I have had here.”
It was the third-career World Cup medal for McRae in addition to her World Championship triumph last year. She first broke onto the World Cup podium in 2014 when she won the bronze in Altenberg, Germany – just weeks before the Olympic Winter Games where she went on to finish fifth. She also won the silver last year in Lake Placid.
“This was huge for me,” stated McRae. “The first half (of the season) has been up and down so it is nice to come into the break with a podium.”
Coincidentally, she shared the podium with Gough on both of those days, marking the only two times in history that two Canadian luge athletes have medalled in the same race outside of Canada.
“It is awesome. I love being on the podium and to do it in Lake Placid, which is a more challenging track, makes it a lot of fun.”
Gough also shared the World Cup podium with Arianne Jones in Calgary at the beginning of this Olympic quadrennial.
One of the toughest tests in the world, Gough has podiumed only two other times in Lake Placid throughout her illustrious career where she has now accumulated a total of 27 World Cup medals.
The Canadian squad will now travel home for the holiday break before heading to Europe on December 28.