The veterans of the Canadian Luge Team, Tristan Walker and Justin Snith, were not able to capitalize on two weeks of solid training in Oberhof, Germany after finishing 10th in doubles racing at the Viessmann Luge World Cup Saturday.
Competing in just their second race of the season after remaining in Canada for the first half of the season due to risks associated with COVID-19, the three-time Olympians posted a two-run time of 1:22.284 for 10th spot.
Walker, of Cochrane, Alta., and Calgary’s Snith were looking for a strong outing in Oberhof after winning Friday’s Nation’s Cup qualifying race, but too many mistakes cost them an opportunity to mix it up in the battle for the medals.
“We definitely took a big step forward from (our first week back) in Konigssee World Cup,” said the 29-year-old Walker. “Training went really well this week, but we just had too many mistakes in the race. This shows we are making some good progress on the new sled, but it’s still pretty fresh and needs some getting used to.”
Walker and Snith have enjoyed success in Oberhof throughout their career with three top-five finishes. They have finished just off the podium in fourth spot two times.
“It was a step forward but after a few solid weeks of training here it kinda fell apart today so we are a little disappointed with how the race went,” added Snith. “The first start was decent, which is a positive, as well as still being in the top-10 despite the problems we had today. We have to use this as a steppingstone and learning experience moving into World Championships which is only two weeks away.”
Austria’s Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koller finished on top of the doubles podium with a time of 1:21.682. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt were second at 1:21.691. Latvia’s Andris Sics and Juris Sics celebrated the bronze medal with a time of 1:21.698.
Walker and Snith have dedicated their season to sliding for a good cause. After losing their personal sponsor as a result of COVID-19 challenges, the most successful duo in the history of the Canadian luge program selected four charities – STARS Air Ambulance, Cochrane & Area Humane Society, Kvisle Fund for GBM, and the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund – to profile on their sled in each of the three World Cup and one World Championship races they will compete in this season.
The two proud Canadians gained inspiration from having the Kvisle Fund for GBM sticker on their sled all week in Oberhof – a charity close to the 28-year-old Snith’s heart.
“The Kvisle Fund for GBM really hits close to home for me because I am personally connected to the Kvisle/Aldous family,” said Snith. “Seeing their fight has inspired me to leverage my position as an Olympian and role model myself for young Canadians, to do more to support the Kvisle Fund in their fight to improve care and outcomes for patients and families facing a Glioblastoma Multiforme brain cancer diagnosis. I am very proud to be able to use our platform to bring additional awareness to charities in this country that are doing important work in our communities – especially during these challenging times.”
Meanwhile, Reid Watts was the lone Canadian to qualify for the men’s singles race. The 2018 Olympian, who hails from Whistler, B.C., finished in 21st spot with a time of 1:26.516.
Germany’s Felix Loch set the time to beat at 1:25.380. Austria’s Jonas Mueller was second at 1:25.627, while David Gleirscher, also of Austria, claimed the bronze medal with a time of 1:25.823.
The World Cup continues on Sunday in Oberhof with the women’s singles race.
Complete Oberhof World Cup Results: https://www.fil-luge.org/en/multimedia/eberspaecher-world-cup-5