Luge vets secure Canadian titles 

Rush, Ciochetti capture bobsleigh crowns at Whistler Sliding Centre

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ERIC MACKENZIE - the champ Sam Edney won his third Canadian men's luge title on Oct. 20 at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
  • Photo by Eric MacKenzie
  • the champ Sam Edney won his third Canadian men's luge title on Oct. 20 at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

There were few surprises on the ice at the Whistler Sliding Centre during the Canadian Luge Championships as the national team's veteran athletes retained their titles as the World Cup season approaches.

Alex Gough repeated as the Canadian women's champ, Sam Edney captured another men's title and Tristan Walker and Justin Snith raced unopposed to claim the doubles crown.

Gough, 26, earned the seventh national title of her career, posting a two-run combined time of one minute, 14.118 seconds and looks to be in strong form as she prepares to contend for a medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Kim McRae, 21, slid to the runner-up position on Sunday by clocking in at 1:14.412, edging 23-year-old teammate Arianne Jones, who hit the podium in third place at 1:14.586. Jordan Smith finished in fourth spot with a time of 1:15.006.

Edney, 28, secured his third men's Canadian title on Sunday by completing his two runs in 1:37.676.

John Fennell and Mitchel Malyk, a pair of up-and-coming 18-year-olds from Calgary, occupied the other two podium spots at the Whistler track. Fennell claimed second place by stopping the clock at 1:38.325, while Malyk earned the bronze with his time of 1:38.421.

Walker and Snith, who are looking to reach the World Cup podium in doubles for the first time this season, finished their two runs in 1:13.743 to be named Canadian champs for the third time in their career together.

Gough, Edney, Walker and Snith will once again make up Canada's relay team for races on the World Cup and in Sochi this season, so the Canadian Luge Association's brass were pleased to see the experienced group excel on the 2010 Olympic track over the weekend.

"It was a great day by our veterans and I was really happy to see the performance of our youngsters," said high-performance director Walter Corey in a release. "Today wrapped up a very intense period of training for us. Everyone has put in a very hard effort this fall. We are excited with where we are at and anxious to get the year underway."

The team has now returned to Calgary, where the World Cup roster was officially introduced on Tuesday, Oct. 22. The World Cup calendar opens Nov. 13 to 17 in Lillehammer, Norway, and includes a stop in Whistler taking place Dec. 4 to 7.

Bobsleigh champs decided

The Whistler Sliding Centre also hosted the Canadian Bobsleigh Championships over the weekend, with the results being a little less predictable.

Kaillie Humphries, the reigning Olympic, world and World Cup champion in women's competition, was upset by Jenny Ciochetti on Saturday, Oct. 19. Ciochetti and partner Ashley Shumate set the winning two-run time at 1:47.48, benefitting from a late mistake by Humphries.

Humphries and brakeman Heather Moyse were more than a half-second ahead of the field after one run and were increasing their lead on the second run when a mistake in Corner 13 pushed them out of the lead and into second place at 1:49.15. Driver Christine Bushie and teammate Melissa Lowe finished third with a time of 1:50.90.

Lyndon Rush, last season's World Cup two-man champ, won the men's event with Neville Wright in a time of 1:44.59. Rush and Wright also took advantage of a mistake by the first-run leader, as Chris Spring and Jesse Lumsden were ahead but unable to finish their second run. Justin Kripps and Brian Barnett teamed up for second place, and Nick Poloniato and Alex Kopacz placed third.

With just two sleds entered, the four-man championships that were scheduled for the following day were cancelled.

The Canadian skeleton team is now in town for preseason training and will hold its Canadian Championships at the track on Sunday, Oct. 27 starting at 11 a.m.

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