Calgary's Gough races to historic luge bronze
Calgary's Alex Gough made history in Cesana Pariol, Italy, becoming the first Canadian ever to reach the podium at the luge world championships when she slid to a bronze medal on Saturday.
Gough recovered from a sloppy mistake in her opening run, nailing her second run down the 17-corner track. She came in at a combined 1:34.413.
"It feels so good and I’m absolutely pumped to finish third," said Gough. "I have been sliding well all week and I had the confidence that I knew I can be there on the podium. I love this track. It is fast and fun and this is just a very proud moment for me and the program."
Germany's Tatjana Huefner, meanwhile, added a third world championship title to her 2010 Olympic gold. The 2007 and '08 world champion finished in a combined time of one minute, 33.969 seconds Saturday to beat compatriot Natalie Geisenberger, who was second in 1:34.243.
"I've been working hard with my mechanic and my coach and it has paid off," Huefner said.
Defending champion Erin Hamlin of the United States made a mistake in her first run and eventually finished 14th.
Gough posted some of the fastest training times all week in Cesana. It was the same track where she made her Olympic debut in 2006 when she was just 18 years old. Gough's breakthrough, however, came in 2009 when she regularly placed in the Top 10 and finished fourth at the world championships in Lake Placid, N.Y.
"I think this is some sweet redemption. I was so close at the last world championships, but especially after last year with the disappointment around everything at the Olympics," said Gough, who was part of Canada's luge team that didn't reach the podium at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
"It is nice to follow up such a great year with a podium here. This track is a lot like Whistler. It is very fast and has some tricky points. I have a lot of fun sliding on it."
The 23-year-old Calgarian has had a stellar season, rewriting the luge history books. She became only the fourth Canadian ever to win a World Cup medal when she claimed her first bronze in Winterberg, Germany. Two weeks later in Park City, Utah, she added another bronze and became the first Canadian to win multiple World Cup medals before taking the bronze again in Konigssee, Germany.
"I am so excited for our sport and what this means to all of us," said Gough. "It is pretty cool to become the first Canadian to win a medal at worlds, but I’m more happy for everyone involved. A lot of people have worked very hard to help get me to this point."
Italy’s Armin Zoggeler won the men’s race with a time of 1:43.538.
Canadians Sam Edney finished 16th at 1:44.743 and Jeff Christie 18th with a time of 1:44.802. Both are from Calgary. Brendan Hauptmann, of Kimberley, B.C., placed 22nd at 1:44.981.