Winter Sports

Canada's Gough, Snith and Walker win bronze at luge WC

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The Canadian Press
1/4/2014 4:12:05 PM
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KONIGSSEE, Germany -- Tristan Walker and Justin Snith reached the World Cup podium Saturday and made Canadian luge history in the process.

Walker, from Cochrane, Alta., and Snith, from Calgary finished third to become the first Canadian duo to win a medal in men's doubles. Earlier, Calgary's Alex Gough won her fourth medal of the season by taking bronze in the women's event.

It was the first time that Canada has won two individual medals on the same day at a luge World Cup.

"It was a fantastic day for our team and a rock-solid week," said head coach Wolfgang Staudinger.

In the women's race, Germany's Natalie Geisenberger earned her sixth victory in as many tries this season. She rallied in the second heat to beat teammate Tatjana Huefner by 0.105 seconds, winning with a two-run time of 1:40.591.

Gough was 0.331 seconds off the lead in third place. Kim McRae was fifth and Arianne Jones, also from Calgary, was 12th.

In the men's race, Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt won gold in 1:39.956 for their fifth win in six races this season. Fellow Germans Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken slid to silver in 1:40.253 and Walker and Snith were third in 1:40.709.

Walker and Snith, both 22, have finished fourth on four occasions, including at the 2013 world championships.

"It is awesome and especially to do it here in Konigssee which is a home away from home for us," said Walker. "We spend a lot of time here, and it is always the first place we go to after Christmas. I had a feeling when we'd finally do it that it would be either here or in Canada.

"It was pretty tense watching the splits come down the track. Standing in the leaders box it was a feeling of relief and excitement."

They were in fourth place after the first trip down the 11-corner Konigssee track. In a sport that demands consistency, the Canadian duo clocked nearly identical times of 50.359 and 50.350 to move up to third.

"I just can't believe it," said Snith. "I'm at a loss for words. It is so nice to see the hard work that we have put in pay off. It's just huge for us to get a podium before Sochi. We knew we could be there, but to actually do it is nice confirmation."

In the women's singles, Gough reached the podium despite sitting in fifth spot after her first run. Gough, who is preparing for her third Olympic appearance, now has 15 career World Cup medals.

"I didn't have the best first run, but I did put it together on the second run," she said. "That has been kind of the theme of the year for me. But it was such a good day for our team. It's so exciting and awesome to see that everyone can be there and fantastic to see the doubles team finally do it."

With the win, Geisenberger is on the cusp of wrapping up the points title with three races remaining. She has 600 points, 199 better than Gough with three races left.

Staudinger, who is from Konigssee, was recruited to the Canadian program nearly eight years ago from the German program. He was thrilled with the team's progress.

"It was great for Alex to get back on the podium and it was even better to see Kim continue to grow and show she can be there with the best at the start and finish," he said. "The doubles finally did it. They were overdue. To be fourth over and over again, you know it is just a matter of time and great to see it happen.

"Wow -- it was a great day for us."

Wendl and Arlt lead Eggert and Benecken by 140 points in the men's doubles season standings. Walker and Snith are seventh.

Competition continues Sunday.

Alex Gough  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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