Sliding track getting new start house for luge 

Upgrades come at the request of international organization

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAVID MCCOLM - new start Alex Gough slides down the Whistler Sliding Centre track at the FIL World Cup in 2011.
  • Photo by David Mccolm
  • new start Alex Gough slides down the Whistler Sliding Centre track at the FIL World Cup in 2011.

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Press official Wolfgang Harder, with the International Luge Federation (FIL — Fédération Internationale de Luge de Course) said the organization is pleased the WSL is responding to its request.

When asked if FIL had any lingering concerns about the safety of the track, given its history, Harder replied to the Pique via email:

"None at all. We have complete confidence in the responsible persons at the Whistler track. Every task on the track was decided in close connection with FIL and the experts of the FIL track commission. We are very pleased with the new start building for women and doubles. This represents real progress and has satisfied the demand for equality."

Luge athletes from around the world are set to gather in Whistler for the World Championships in February.

FIL is expecting 130-150 athletes to race down the track. Up to 100 officials from more than 20 national federations will also be in Whistler for the World Championships.

While WSL officials could not provide details of the changes, communications specialist Melissa Janke confirmed the proposed timing for the upgrades in the lead up to World Championships.

"The Whistler Sliding Centre (is) building a new start and athlete preparation area for women's, doubles', and the team relay as advised by the FIL," emailed Janke. "The changes to the field of play portion of the new start are scheduled to be completed by January 2013 for FIL international training week and the FIL Luge World Championships in February."

The two-storey Top Start House at the Whistler Sliding Centre, according to the WSL website, is almost 4,000 square feet, the bulk of the space made up of outdoor decks both on the upper and lower levels. The indoor space has washrooms as well as kitchen facilities.

That start house is no longer used by the lugers. It is not clear if the new luge start house will be modeled after the Top Start House.

FIL has also decided that the luge team relay, which will make its Olympic debut in 2014 at the Sochi, Russia Olympic Games, will also start from the women's/doubles start, so called the "Olympic start."

"I know there's a lot of excitement and our team — the women and the doubles', and also myself for the team relay — we're all pretty excited because it give us a bit more of a chance to have a clean entrance into the first curve," said Edney. "For us, that will give us a better chance to do well, for sure."

Given the track changes and the new entry angle, FIL also requested that before the 2013 World Championships there would be an additional four days of training with three training runs each for all athletes.

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