The field wasn't huge at the Canadian Youth Championships at Whistler Sliding Centre on March 7.
But that doesn't mean Luge Canada high-performance director Walter Corey lacked a sense of how Canuck sleds were performing.
In all, 42 entries took part across the 12 divisions offered. No event had more than seven people taking part and seven had three or fewer participating.
Corey, who has served in his capacity since 2007, explained having a second venue here in Whistler has helped to greatly boost the sport at the youth level and results are starting to show. This year the world championship Crystal Globes went to Adam Shippit for the youth A men's while Reid Watts and Matt Riddle took home the youth A doubles crown.
The three competed this past weekend and provided an example to the young sliders who hope to follow in their footsteps.
"Since the opening of the Whistler venue, this event's grown quite a bit," said Corey. "It obviously increases our talent pool to do an event this size. It's really good for the kids, because we offset either the Youth Championships or the Canada Cup in either venue each year, so we make sure the kids in the program get to train on both facilities and increase their skills and get diverse run volume.
"It starts to build a bit of a foundation for them to transition into more of a high-performance athlete."
Though lugers need to get started at a young age to progress to the top level, Corey explained potential isn't always realized right away, but can often be seen in an athlete's attitude.
"You're looking for the ones that can execute, are very coachable, that change from run to run," he said. "I like to see the ones that actually really enjoy sliding. Sometimes it takes a little while. If you see them at a young age, they don't necessarily get it yet and then by the time you see them when they're 15 or 16, then they've started to hone their skills."
Corey explained his evaluation is split into two groups with greater scrutiny being placed on sliders as they hit their teens. Among the older competitors, he saw some encouraging elements but knows there's still plenty of work to be done to establish Canada as a dominant player on the world scene.
"What I saw today was pretty consistent sliding. There were only a couple guys or gals that had some mistakes," he said. "We definitely need to continue to work on our starting. We're suffering a bit of a gap there to being world class. We're benchmarking that based on World Cup performance, so there are some maturation issues there.
"But ultimately, if they have the engine now, we'll be wanting to see... faster start times than what we saw. We've got to shovel the dirt a little more this summer if these guys really want to really transition into being successful Olympians."
In terms of contested divisions, B.C. sliders Reid Watts (youth A men's), Trinity Ellis (youth B women's), Garrett Reid (youth C men's), Embyr Susko (youth D women's), Lily Boucher (junior women's open) were victorious as were Albertans Brooke Apshkrum (youth A women's), Cole Zajanski (youth B men's), Natalie Corless (youth C women's) and Malcolm Klager (open men's) won.
B.C.'s Liam McNolty (youth D men's), Camryn Kiszczak (youth open women), Kenneth Richardson (youth open men's) and Watts and Matt Riddle (youth A doubles) won gold as the only competitors in their respective divisions.
Correction: In the story "Luger hits World Cup circuit" in last week's edition of Pique, incorrect luge results were given. Veronica Ravenna finished third in the youth A women's division at the Canada Cup in Calgary on Feb. 22, while Nicky Klimchuk-Brown also finished third in the youth A men's division. Pique regrets the error. Full results are available at bcluge.ca.
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