The Canadian luge relay team upset Germany to win the season-opening World Cup race Sunday in Igls, Austria.
Alex Gough, Sam Edney, Tristan Walker and Justin Snith — all based in Calgary — posted an aggregate time of two minutes 8.774 seconds to beat the German team, which won five of six relay events last season, by 0.217. Russia took third in 2:09.427.
The gold was Gough's second medal of the weekend. She took the bronze medal in Saturday's women's singles event.
The relay event will make its Olympic debut in 2014 in Sochi, Russia. The competition consists of one women's singles sled, one men's singles sled and one doubles team sled, each of which complete one run for a combined final time. In an effort to make the event more exciting, the International Luge Federation recently introduced the relay-type system that has the athletes hitting a pad at the finish, which opens the gate at the start for the next team member.
Canada made history Sunday by finishing in top spot in a World Cup race for the first time ever. Canada was awarded a relay gold at a World Cup meet two years ago in Austria, but that came as a result of a disqualification when Germany's doubles sled failed to touch the pad properly, bumping Canada up from second place.
"The team event is about putting three quality runs together and posting a solid time. We did that and it is a sweet victory for us," said Edney. "Winning a team event shows the success of an entire program. We are growing up together as a group.
"People now look at Canada differently [in luge] and are realizing that we are contenders every time we participate in one of these competitions."
Germany's Loch wins men's event
Later Sunday, Olympic champion Felix Loch of Germany won the men's race while setting a track record in both heats.
Loch clocked 50.145 seconds in his opening run on the Olympia track and beat that mark by 0.020 in his final run to win in an aggregate 1 minute, 40.270 seconds for his fifth career World Cup victory.
David Moeller made it a German 1-2 finish after trailing Loch by 0.303 in second place. Overall World Cup champion Armin Zoeggeler of Italy was another 0.054 back in third.
Edney, the lone Canadian, finished 16th.
The first run was briefly interrupted after Ralf Palik of Germany lost control of his luge and crashed. He slid head-down on the track for several hundred metres but then stood up and appeared unhurt.
The luge World Cup continues in Whistler, B.C., on Dec. 9-10.