Alex Gough headlines Canada's World Cup luge team
Olympic hopefuls Justin Snith, Tristan Walker and Sam Edney also named to squad
After solidifying her status as the top female luger in Canada, Alex Gough will lead Canada’s World Cup team into competition in the 2013-14 season.
The team of nine luge athletes was officially announced on Tuesday in Calgary, following Gough’s dominating performance at Canadian nationals on Sunday, where she posted a combined two-run time of one minute, 14.118 seconds.
The 26-year-old from Calgary has two world championship bronze medals in singles competition, as well as a silver and bronze as part of the team relay in 2011 and 2013. Gough also won a World Cup gold medal in 2011, breaking a 13-year, 105 race streak held by Germany.
Joining Gough on the roster of Canadian women’s sliders are Kim McRae, Arianne Jones, and Jordan Smith all of Calgary.
Jeff Christie was a member of the Canadian national team for more than a decade before his retirement in 2011.
He says Gough can be counted on to be a podium threat in every race this season.
“She’s always a top three threat, in that top five group all the time," Christie says. "It’s just a matter of how well the race goes for her and for the others, she could move into that top spot.
“Arianne and Kim are looking at success being consistent top 10 results; they have the potential to be there.”
Veteran luger Sam Edney of Calgary leads the Canadian men’s singles, which also includes fellow Calgarians John Fennell and Mitchel Malyk. The 29-year-old Edney has more than a decade of luge experience and has posted the Canadian bests by a male slider, including a fifth-place finish at the 2013 world championships.
The doubles team of Justin Snith, of Calgary, and Tristan Walker, of Cochrane, Alta. were also named to the national squad. The pair could be poised to improve upon their breakout performance during last World Cup season, which featured two fourth-place finishes as well as a fourth-place at worlds.
With Gough, Edney, Snith and Walker all returning to national team duty, that keeps Canada’s team relay squad intact, a foursome that combined for four World Cup podium results (three silver, one bronze) and world championship silver in Whistler in 2013.
The team event, which combines the run times of men’s, women’s and a doubles tandem, will make its debut as an Olympic event in Sochi in February and Canada is considered a medal contender, as Christie says the team has something very few countries can boast – an all-around top 10 consistency in each of the three disciplines.
“Every time they take to the ice, they’re podium bound. If they’re not on there, that’s a disappointment for them,” Christie said. “There’s something about racing as a team that seems to rev these guys up. I call it a pretty Canadian thing – they start doing things together and they get really into it.”
Canada will begin the hunt for World Cup medals when the season kicks off on Nov. 16 in Lillehammer, Norway.