The Canadian luge team continues to look strong on the World Cup circuit with just three weeks until the FIL World Luge Championships at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
Canada’s Alex Gough, Sam Edney, Tristan Walker and Justin Snith earned a silver medal in team relay on Sunday (Jan. 6) at Königssee, Germany, finishing eight-tenths back of the winning German team but solidly ahead of the third-place Austrians.
“We are really happy to get back on the podium,” said Walker in a release. “The key to success for us is consistency. All three sleds have to be on and we were able to do that today.”
The Canadian foursome has two runner-up finishes from three team relay races this season. Germany is undefeated so far.
“It is nice to show we still have it, but there remains a gap between us and the Germans and we need to focus on closing that,” said Edney. “Our focus will be winning the World Championships in Whistler in a few weeks.”
The national team skipped a World Cup in Latvia before Christmas to come and train in Whistler ahead of the World Championship races on Feb. 1 and 2.
Individually, it was a strong weekend for the Canadians at Königssee, which hosted its second World Cup of the season to replace an event originally scheduled for the now-defunct Cesana Pariol track in Italy.
Gough finished fourth in her women’s race Saturday (Jan. 5), and was once again the only athlete from outside Germany to finish in the top five. Natalie Geisenberger led the host nation’s sweep of the podium, her third win of the season.
“I feel like I do have room to improve on the start, but I have to be satisfied today,” said Gough, 25. “I’m in the mix and this is their home track.”
Teammate Kim McRae had a solid eighth-place finish, while Calgary’s Arianne Jones was 12th. Dayna Clay was 16th in her first World Cup start of the season.
Doubles duo Walker and Snith showed continued consistency, posting another sixth-place result to match career-bests in Europe. The Canadians sat fourth after the opening run and finished with a total time that was .006 seconds out of the top five.
“Being fourth in the first run is a great sign of their potential,” said Canadian head coach Wolfgang Staudinger. “We are headed in the right direction, and there is no doubt we will find our way on the podium in doubles, too, if we keep working hard.”
Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt won to keep their perfect season going. Walker and Snith are eighth in the doubles rankings despite missing the Latvian event.
In the men’s singles race, Edney recorded a career-best finish at Königssee by placing 13th.
The Canadians are in the midst of five consecutive World Cup races on German tracks, with stops at Oberhof and Winterberg yet to come before athletes arrive in Whistler.
“This schedule with five of nine World Cup races on German tracks makes it very difficult for the rest of the world but we can’t make excuses,” said Staudinger. “We have to deal with it.”
World Cup racing resumes Saturday and Sunday (Jan. 12 and 13) at Oberhof.