Reid Watts found success in double duty on the FIL youth A circuit last year.
The Whistler luger, along with partner Matt Riddle, won the doubles title while also placing fifth overall on the singles circuit.
But this year, he's narrowed his focus, honing in solely on singles competition.
The move has paid dividends early on, as Watts hit the podium in Königssee, Germany in his first international race of the year. The 17-year-old took a bronze medal with a two-run time of one minute, 42.649 seconds (1:42.649) to finish 0.405 seconds back of champion Thomas Jaensch of Germany. Bastian Schulte placed second. Squamish's Nicky Klimchuk-Brown, meanwhile, placed ninth.
Watts was confident coming out of the practice period and was further encouraged with speedier conditions presenting themselves on race day.
"I was feeling really good. I had a really good week of training so I just knew if I had thrown down two solid runs and a couple good starts that I'd be up there," Watts said from Igls, Austria, where he will race this Friday, Dec. 11. "I tried to keep it as similar as I could in training as I did on race day, not change much and just have fun.
"It was a fast track, which was nice."
Königssee is a familiar track for Watts, who placed 10th there in 2013-14 and did a week of training at the eastern German location last season. He hopes the strong showing at one of the world's more challenging tracks will set him up for the rest of the year, including next month's Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
"It's one that my sliding abilities match with because there's a lot of driving. It's a very technical track and those are the tracks that are best suited for me because Whistler, with its fast and technical conditions, has taught me so well," he said. "I'm definitely more about the technical tracks, not the ones that you just lay there and glide and not do too much."
Watts appreciates the chance to focus on singles exclusively, as doubles training wasn't particularly transferable back to the times where it's just him, the sled and the open track.
"Back when I did singles and doubles, it was double the amount of training, double-long sessions, so it was a lot more exhausting. This is really helpful to me, just having one focus now," he said. "On the bottom of the doubles sled, you're there just to soften things up, to make minor adjustments. The guy on the top is doing all the driving.
"It was a lot to cope with doing both."
It also took time to generate some chemistry with the other rider on the sled, Watts explained, which makes the seventh-place performance of Riddle and new partner Adam Shippit — last year's youth A singles champion — all the more impressive.
"They've been doing pretty well considering how little runs they've had together as a team," he said. "It's great to see."
The Sea to Sky nearly had a pair of podium finishes to savour as Mount Currie's Jenna Spencer placed fourth in the junior women's race a week after her World Cup debut, a 20th-place showing at Igls in late November.
Spencer posted a time of 1:44.129 and placed 1.509 seconds back of winner Jessica Tiebel of Germany. Fellow German Alisa Dengler was second and Russian Olesia Mikhalenko was third.
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