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"We're slowly moving into the profitable state, but we're still not the most successful business on the playing field," he said. "Our tendencies are pointing in the right direction, and in the last race we had three women in the top 10. To get the medals we still need a bit more momentum, and we're working on it and we're progressing year by year. We're giving it our best shot, and sometimes we're on the podium and sometimes not — we're just not in a state yet where we can get a podium every week."
The last event in Winterberg is a good example with five Canadian sleds making the top 15, Gough finishing sixth and Walker and Snith placing ninth in doubles. "Overall, week to week, we get a little bit better," said Staudinger. "It's not a sport where you can have success overnight."
Success breeds more success in the Canadian sporting system, where money is invested more heavily in teams and athletes that have the proven ability to win Olympic and World Championship medals. To that end, Gough's performance — and the performance of the relay team — has been huge for the national program in terms of funding and support.
Staudinger said the national team is more or less fully funded, although he said Luge Canada could use more funding for developing athletes. Canada has a strong junior team he'd like to see get more support.
"Now we have podium finishes from younger athletes, and athletes breaking into the top 10. It's never happened before and now in the last three or four years we have some fruit on the trees," he said. "To go further and make those fruits ripen, a little more money wouldn't hurt."
While downplaying expectations for podiums, Staudinger said the opportunity to host such a high level event in Whistler will help put the sport in the spotlight — and every Canadian athlete on the team wants to podium at home.
"You don't promote (the sport) just by talking, the best promotion is by getting results and then the attention follows," he said. "We don't want to come into Whistler to brag we're going to do something, but we're approaching these races like any other regular race we do, which means we'll make sure athletes are in the right place and time, in the best possible shape with the best possible conditions to execute the skills they have. Top five and top six is definitely a reasonable goal for us, and hopefully we can get a medal."
Staudinger is hoping that the event will get a big turnout of spectators. In Europe, they would see 5,000 to 10,000 fans at some events, and he says his athletes would feed off the energy of fans.
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