This Friday and Saturday, the Whistler Sliding Centre is playing host to the Viessmann FIL Luge World Cup with two days of racing on tap. It's the biggest luge event the track has hosted since the Olympic Games almost two years ago.
The men's doubles event takes place on Friday, Dec. 9 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., while the men's race is from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The women's race — which will feature Alex Gough, the first Canadian to win a World Cup and world championship medal last season — is on Saturday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., followed by the team relay.
Tickets for the event are $10 (kids six and under are free), and available online at www.whistler.com. You can also pick up tickets at the box office outside of the Whistler Conference Centre, and they will be sold on the day of the event at the Excalibur Gondola.
Here's a primer for anyone looking to catch the action this weekend.
Are there any Canadians to watch — and are they any good?
The answer to that is yes and yes. Canada will have entries in the male, female and team relay events, and some of those athletes are legitimate contenders.
On the women's side, the top athlete to watch is Alex Gough. Last season she became the first Canadian to podium in a World Cup luge event, a feat she repeated four times. She was also the first non-German to win a World Cup since 1997, and the first Canadian to medal at a world championship event. At the World Cup opener in Austria last week, Gough placed third.
Arianne Jones, the other member of the women's team is closing in on the top 10.
Sam Edney is the top Canadian on the men's side, and has a few top 10 results to his credit. He's improving week-to-week, and with the success of Gough every member of the team is starting to believe.
It's also worth noting that Canada won gold in the first Team Relay event of the season in Austria, the first relay held since the sport was added to the Olympic calendar back in April. The team was comprised of Gough, Edney and the newly formed doubles team of Justin Snith and Tristan Walker.
Whistler slider Jenna Spencer will not be here to race or forerun the course, but will be in Austria instead to compete in a Junior World Cup event.
The Olympic single luge champions, Germans Felix Loch and Tatjana Hufner, will be on hand to defend their titles.
Is the sport/track safe?
Luge Canada and the International Luge Federation (FIL) are adamant that the sport and Whistler Sliding Centre are safe, and that the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili on the eve of the 2010 Games was an unfortunate accident. Since then the track has been modified and reshaped to prevent a similar accident from happening.
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