Canadians round out luge worlds with a pair of podiums 

Alex Gough wins bronze in women's event; Canada second in team relay

click to enlarge Alex Gough (right) celebrates her bronze medal at the FIL Luge World Championships in Whistler on Saturday, the second championship bronze of her career.
  • Alex Gough (right) celebrates her bronze medal at the FIL Luge World Championships in Whistler on Saturday, the second championship bronze of her career.

Canadian coach Wolfgang Staudinger was worried that with the lower starting gates the Canadians wouldn't have any home ice advantage at the Whistler Sliding Centre for the FIL Luge World Championships, but the team came through for the hometown crowd.

The competition wrapped up on Saturday with a pair of medals, starting with Alex Gough's bronze medal in the women's individual event. She earned bronze medals in the first two events of the season but finished just off the podium in her next four starts.

"It feels really good, it's tough to be that close to a silver medal and not be there but I'm still really happy with my performance," she said.

Natalie Geisenberger of Germany took the championship title in 1:13.428, followed by teammate Tatjana Hufner in 1:13.534 and Gough in 1:13.546 - just 12 one-hundredths of a second back of silver.

Whistler Sliding Centre played host to a vocal crowd for the event, and up at the women's start Gough could hear cowbells - something she appreciated even if it did add to her nerves.

"I tried not to hear them but I could, and it was a great crowd, really loud and supportive, and I'm just happy to see everyone out."

The other Canadians also had good days with Kimberley McCrae placing seventh overall and Arianne Jones in eighth. Jones also placed third in the Under 23 age group.

Following the women's event, the athletes went back up to the top for the team relay event. Canada had its work cut out with the German team boasting all three world champions from this season - Natalie Geisenberger, Felix Loch and the tandem of Wendl Tobias and Arlt Tobias.

In the end the Germans were too fast with all of the athletes posting the fastest time on their leg of the relay. But the Canadians, who have two silver medals to their credit in the relay this season, had a good night with Gough and Sam Edney posting the second-fastest times of the night, and the doubles team of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith posting the fourth fastest team to earn the silver medal.

"It was a weekend of close, close results and we had a successful Saturday," said Edney. "Alex, I think, gave the three of us that encouragement that we deserve to be on the podium, and it just feels really good to be on there in front of this home crowd."

In terms of results, it was an historic finish for Canada with two World Championship medals, but although the team didn't win any medals on the first day of competition Friday was also historic with athletes making history in both the men's doubles and men's individual races.

In doubles, the tandem team of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith had no idea they would make Canadian luge history with their fourth place result, and seemed genuinely surprised when reporters at the finish line pointed it out.

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