Theft hurts luge athletes’ quest for gold 

Police investigating robbery at Alpine Meadows pension

click to enlarge At a Loss Luge athletes need their stolen laptops returned.
  • At a Loss Luge athletes need their stolen laptops returned.

Two Canadian luge athletes, visiting Whistler to test out of the new sliding track, were robbed this week, setting them back in their quest for gold medals on their home turf.

Sam Edney and Ian Cockerline awoke Monday morning to find their computers and a camera missing from a common area of the Alpine Lodge, where the national team is staying. They are the only guests at the pension.

The computers are a critical part of their training equipment, not to mention a way to keep in touch with family and friends while training and travelling. Notes from every luge track they have ever slid down are on the equipment to remind the athletes of the nuances of each course.

“It’s kind of like the Bible for us going down each track,” said the 23-year-old Edney.

“It’s each person’s individual way of driving the luge sled down the track.”

Cockerline, 24, added that the “track lines”, which are just written in simple Word documents, contain their own little tricks for getting down each track.

“I’d be happy if they gave me back my hard drive,” he said.

The athletes believe a thief entered the unlocked door of the pension in the middle of the night, and packed up their electronics in an empty ski bag.

RCMP Constable Afzeel Jakub said there is an active investigation into the matter.

“We don’t have any suspects at this point,” he added.

Mayor Ken Melamed was distressed to learn of the theft and embarrassed on behalf of the community, which he said has done its best to welcome these visiting athletes.

“The Whistler community is very thankful for and gracious to these athletes who are devoting their lives on behalf of our country,” said the mayor.

“Hopefully we can find a way to make it up to them.”

While the friendly luge athletes remain optimistic and upbeat about their time in Whistler to date, the theft has set them back, both financially and psychologically.

“That’s not ideal when you’re in your home country trying to win gold,” said Chris Dornan, communications manager for the Calgary Olympic Development Association.

“Their life is on those computers.”

Edney and Cockerline are just two of dozens of athletes in Whistler for several weeks as the $105 million sliding track is officially approved by the three sliding federations.

This is their first time on the track and the first step in establishing their home-team advantage. The more they can slide down the Whistler track, the better their chances at winning gold in 2010.

“It does feel like (that home advantage) has been ripped away,” said Edney of the theft.

The national luge team does not have a sponsor. The men rely on funding from Sport Canada and the Own the Podium program and while that funding has increased in recent years, it’s still tough with no official team sponsor.

Edney and Cockerline, who are both from Calgary, will be leaving Whistler on Wednesday, March 19. Both are planning on returning in the fall at the beginning of their training season to get more runs on the track.

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