Germany may still be the world's most dominant team in luge, but Canada is catching up.
At the FIL Luge World Cup in Whistler this past weekend, the Canadian team had a solid showing in both the individual events and especially in the team relay, where the athletes combined to win a silver medal.
On Friday, Germany swept five of the top six spots with Olympic champion Felix Loch defending his Olympic title at the course to take the win. His teammate Johannes Ludwig set a new track start record on his first run to take the silver medal, while David Mller took the bronze medal.
Sam Edney had one of the best runs of his career for Canada, tying a career-high placing of fifth with two solids runs on the course. He was fourth after his first run, but dropped one spot after the second run.
Edney's two-run time was 1:37.061, less than three-tenths of a second back of third place.
"I know I can slide with the best of them," he said. "It's clear to me where they (German lugers) have that edge, and that's at the start. It motivates me to get to where I know I have to be physically at the start to catch them. There is a lot of sliding to be done and I know I have a lot of time to try and catch them."
Coach Wolfgang Staudinger pointed out that Canada was the second nation in the world behind Germany in that event, and the field included both the Olympic and world champion.
In men's doubles luge, the rookie team of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith continued to race consistently, placing ninth the first week in Austria and following up with a 10th place finish in Whistler. They were sixth after the first run, but dropped back four spots on their second trip down the track.
"We will learn from this," said Walker. "It is great to be back on this track and racing in front of our friends and family in Canada."
The next day was the much-anticipated women's luge event, where Calgary's Alex Gough was a genuine contender in the battle for the podium with five medals last season and a bronze in the opener in Austria. Unfortunately she made a mistake at the start of her first run, and despite posting the third-fastest second run of the day the best she could finish was fourth.
"The key is that first corner out of the start, and if you don't get it perfectly then you're not making that time up," she said.
"It's still a good result and I'm happy with the way I'm sliding. I've shown that I can be close to the podium even with a bad start."
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