It wasn’t the finish he was hoping for, but Sam Edney will put a bow on his World Cup career after leading his Canadian mates to a sixth-place finish in the team relay on Sunday in Sigulda, Latvia.
The 33-year-old Edney, who is the only Canadian male ever to hop onto the World Cup podium three times including one victory throughout his 15-career, had a solid run on a tricky 1,260 mere track in Latvia to help the Canadians finish sixth at 2:14.414.
“This is a very active track that demands a lot. You have to be in the right place at the right time and even being millimeters off can cost you. The moment it falls apart it snowballs all the way down until it finally eats you and you crash,” said Edney, who had a skid at the start in the relay.
Edney was joined by fellow Calgarians, Alex Gough along with Tristan Walker and Justin Snith. After Gough posted the fifth-fastest time for a women’s sled, the Canadians remained locked in the sixth spot. The relay is a one-run race for each of the three sleds. Athletes hit a paddle that hangs over the finish line to open the gate for the next sled to go.
“Our team was not pleased because there were small things in each run that we wanted back. We met as a group and we do have some positives. I had a good reaction time, and we were able to finish third in the overall team relay this year. Things may not look so good on the results today, but there were some real highs on the season and we know what we need to do heading to the big show,” added Edney.
The Russian team finished first with a time of 2:13.428. Germany was second at 2:13.579, while Latvia thrilled the hometown crowd with the bronze medal at 2:13.607.
Earlier in the day, Edney was looking to put a solid finish to his career in men’s singles racing. After a strong first run down the 16-corner track that had him in 11th spot, the four-time Olympian struggled in his final heat, dropping him to 31st (1:38.251).
“It was a tough day. I was happy with the first run and I really wanted to end my World Cup career with a top-15 finish in one of these last three races. I knew it was possible today, but I think I got a bit too eager on that second run, had a lapse, which you can’t do here in Sigulda and I paid for it,” said Edney, who added the top-23 sleds in the men’s field were six-tenths apart.
“It’s not the end to my World Cup career that I was looking for, but it does show it is there, and I can carry myself into the Games knowing I have a couple of things to work on. Consistency is usually the best part of my sliding. If I can take anything from the last 17 years, it is that, heading into the Olympics.”
Canadian teenager, Reid Watts of Whistler, B.C., who represents the next generation of elite Canadian luge athletes, placed 30th at 1:38.195.
Russia’s Semen Pavlichenko won the men’s race with a time of 1:36.758.
The Canadian squad will now travel to Seoul, Korea for a staging camp before heading into the Olympic Village, February 3.
“I know we have had good international training weeks in Korea,” said Wolfgang Staudinger, head coach, Canadian Luge Team. We have to slide to our potential. If we do, then I know we will be good. Today that didn’t happen, but I know the speed is there, the starts are there, and we are in the game.”