Tristan Walker and Justin Snith put together the doubles race they had been dreaming about for three years, winning the bronze medal at the Luge World Cup in Lake Placid, New York on Friday.
The doubles tandem captured their third career doubles podium, and first since 2015, after two consistent runs on the highly-technical 16-corner track that winds down Mount Hoevenberg.
“Having two consistent runs and getting on the podium is something that has been few and far between for us a few years,” said Walker, of Cochrane, Alta. “It feels really good, especially to do it in Lake Placid.”
Struggling to find two solid runs for much of this Olympic quadrennial, the 26-year-old Canucks were sitting in fourth spot after the first heat, and were ready to capitalize on the opportunity to deliver.
“We tried not to think about the result, especially in the high-pressured scenario between the two runs. We were more focused on what we needed to do next rather than the result at the end. I think that was a reason for our rocky start. We had high expectations at the beginning of the season and we needed to get back to focusing on the basics,” said Walker, who added the sixth-place finish at home last week set them in a new direction.
Building on the reset in Calgary after a dismal start to the season in Europe where the focus was put on the process and not the results, the Canadians responded once again with the third-fastest time in the second run to grab the final spot on the podium with a time of 1:27.683.
“This was a really good day. It’s been a frustrating three years since we’ve been on the podium. We know we can do it if we are consistent, but just haven’t been able to put two runs together and get it done,” said Justin Snith, who along with Walker were fourth in doubles at the 2014 Olympics. “Last week in Calgary was very important for us. It put us in a better mental space and gave us some momentum.
“But we can’t get ahead of ourselves. We need to keep working the way we have these last couple of weeks – taking things one day at a time. These results show us that if we are consistent, we are in the top-six.”
Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the gold with a time of 1:26.806. Austria’s Peter Penz and Georg Fischler slid to the silver at 1:27.440. A solid run and a costly mistake by the American sled of Matt Mortensen and Jayson Terdiman, who were in second place after the first run, propelled the Canadians to the bronze.
“It was a huge shock. Standing in the leader’s box I thought we were too far back so it was a huge surprise,” added Walker. We did know people are going to make mistakes here. That is a constant for Lake Placid so having two good runs is a difference maker.”
The Canadians’ previous best finish in Lake Placid came during their first visit to the challenging track in 2013 when they were fourth.
“We knew today was going to be a fight, and the focus had to be on minimizing the mistakes. The first time we were here we had a rough week of training but were fourth after two decent runs,” added Snith. “Two clean runs does wonders for you here.”