Golden start for youth lugers 

Ellis wins two individual races; Corless and Nash make women's doubles history

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - TWO FOR TRINITY Trinity Ellis, shown here in a file photo, won a pair of FIL Junior World Cup races in Park City, Utah to start the season.
  • Photo submitted
  • TWO FOR TRINITY Trinity Ellis, shown here in a file photo, won a pair of FIL Junior World Cup races in Park City, Utah to start the season.

Whistler's youth lugers excelled in the first races of the FIL Junior World Cup season in Park City, Utah, and even made some history along the way.

In the first-ever youth 'A' women's doubles race on Dec. 5, Natalie Corless and Caitlin Nash slid to victory over Americans Maya Chan and Reannyn Wheeler and Czechs Marketa Novakova and Anna Vejdelkova. For good measure, Corless and Nash won once again in the same three-team field on Dec. 7.

Nash was well aware of the history that she and Corless made down in Utah.

"It was definitely crazy. It was a really cool experience for Natalie and I, especially since we haven't slid together for very long. This is about our one-year anniversary of sliding together," she said. "It's definitely time for women's doubles to become an event. It's pretty exciting for sure."

Nash and Corless, who both cut their teeth as singles riders but now do both singles and doubles, explain there are challenges making the transition.

"Caitlin and I have some trouble training, but we definitely have fun," said Corless, who is situated on the bottom. "It's very different having two people on the sled compared to one, so you kind of have to learn new skills.

"Caitlin is the eyes of the sled and I have to follow her cues. I make sure we go down smooth, and I help with little corrections. Caitlin is the lead and I help along."

Nash added that having to get on the same page at such high speeds adds an element of difficulty that singles doesn't offer.

"You have to be willing to compromise and work together in a different way," she said. "It's definitely a learning experience, for sure, after doing singles for six years and then trying to transition and learn how to do doubles.

"We're making mistakes and to fix those mistakes together is definitely difficult."

Corless and Nash are both in their first seasons on the Junior World Cup circuit, though Corless has gone to Park City before. Corless noted that though she's starting at the same height she did in her previous trip to Utah, she's on a heavier sled and going at higher speeds.

"I came into the season not knowing entirely how it was going to go," she said. "It was quite exciting."

Nash, meanwhile, was thrilled with how she and Corless were able to learn the Park City track well enough to win with just six training runs, whereas in prior years, she was encouraged to take as many runs as possible.

"I've never had this little time to prepare and learn how to slide on a new track," she said. "It's definitely different learning to adapt quicker and make changes faster than I have been in previous years."

In individual youth 'A' action, Pemberton's Trinity Ellis also won a pair of races, sharing the podium with Russian Elizaveta Yurchenko and Nash on Dec. 5 (Corless took fifth) and with Corless and Yurchenko on Dec. 8 (Nash ended up in fourth).

Ellis has high hopes for the campaign, her second on the Junior World Cup tour.

"One of my goals in the season was to get the overall (title) in the World Cup points, so this is a really good start to that," she said. "The North American World Cups have a smaller field, so I was hoping to do well."

It was Ellis' first time in Park City, so she was pleased to slide to victory.

"It was a new track but I really liked it. It was similar to some of the tracks we've slid on before and it worked well," she said.

Ellis described her runs as solid from start to finish, beginning well and staying in control, which built her confidence each time down.

"In the first race, it was being able to put down two good runs and feeling like I could be at the top. And then just confirming that again with the second race," she said.

In men's action, Whistler's Garrett Reid led the Canadian team on both occasions, finishing in sixth on Dec. 5 and eighth on Dec. 7.

Next up for the team is Junior World Cup action in Calgary on Dec. 14 and 15, and with a familiar track, the lugers are keen to show more of what they can do.

"We have a lot of training here. In pre-season training, we had almost a month here," Ellis said. "I'm feeling pretty prepared for this race and hopefully I can repeat.

"It's a super comfy track. It's pretty much a home track for us."

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