International travel risks associated with COVID-19 will keep Canada’s top luge athletes training on home ice at the Whistler Sliding Centre until the holiday break of the World Cup season.


While the International Luge Federation plans to conduct a full World Cup season beginning November 24 in Austria, Canada’s top tobogganers will miss the first four World Cup events of the 2020-21 season. The team will travel to Europe on December 20 for the second half of the critical season before the Olympic year.


“Over the past few weeks, we have had weighed all of our options and risks that may arise while travelling with this team of athletes throughout Europe. Our number one priority is always the safety of all our athletes and staff. These athletes are a young group, and obviously quarantine restrictions complicates things for us in bringing them home for the holiday break so we felt the safest thing to do is to stay home, and train on one of the top tracks in the world in our own backyard,” said Sam Edney, high-performance director, Luge Canada.


A full contingent of senior and NextGen Canadian luge athletes will slide into Whistler, B.C. on October 16 for nearly two months of training. The trip to Canada’s West Coast will also consist of National Team Selection Races. The senior squad will hit the start handles for two races: November 6 and 13. The NextGen Team will also compete in three selection races scheduled for November 22, November 29 and December 6.


The Canadian Team will slide into the New Year by rejoining the World Cup circuit in Konigssee, Germany. After skipping the Sigulda, Latvia race (January 5-10), Canadian athletes will put World Cup race bibs on in Oberhof, Germany (January 12-17); Igls, Austria (January 19-24); and the World Championships in Konigssee, Germany (January 26-31). The 50th World Championships were previously scheduled to take place in Whistler, B.C. Luge Canada also plans to take part in the international training week and the Olympic Test Event near Beijing, China (February 4-21).


“Ideally we want to be competing against the world’s best athletes, but with such a young team, we believe we can capitalize on this very difficult situation for everyone by continuing to focus on our development while centralizing in Whistler,” added Edney.


“I believe we all have a role to play to keep our sport, and Canada going. That said, there is no quit in high-performance sport so we will continue to navigate through the changes to our daily training and competitive environments. I am confident this group will actually come out of this stronger and more prepared together to shine at the 2021 World Championships, which is a critical measuring stick of where we are at on the journey to the Beijing Games.”


Luge Canada will determine plans for junior athletes travelling to Europe after weighing all travel risks associated with COVID-19 during the holiday break. In an effort to keep athletes competitive, Luge Canada will host two Junior World Cups for Canadian athletes only at the Whistler Sliding Centre, December 8-13.