Sam Edney claims luge World Cup silver on Calgary home track
Canadian duo of Tristan Walker, Justin Snith finish 6th in doubles
Sam Edney spun home-track advantage into silver at the Viessman Luge World Cup on Friday.
The 33-year-old from Calgary finished second to Germany's Felix Loch at Canada Olympic Park, where Edney estimates he's logged hundreds of runs in his career.
The Canadian team returned from the season's first two World Cups in Europe with a single silver medal in the team relay.
"Not only did I need it, but the team needed it for sure," Edney said. "Just to get this in front of the home crowd and my last race in Calgary is a pretty special one."
The three-time Olympian is expected to retire after competing in his fourth in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February.
Edney became the first Canadian man to win a World Cup gold in luge with his victory in Calgary in 2014.
His teammate Mitchel Malyk finished just off the podium in fourth Friday. The 22-year-old briefly held a track record in his first run before Loch lowered it to 44.274 seconds a few minutes later.
"This is a big step mentally for us," Edney said. "We're moving into the second half of the season. We're nine weeks away from the Olympics. It's a good moment for us because a lot of confidence comes from this."
Loch, the Olympic champion in both 2010 and 2014, posted a two-run time of one minute 28.752 seconds for the win.
Edney's time was 1:29.138 ahead of bronze medallist Roman Repilov of Russia in 1:29.205. Malyk's time was 1:29.265 seconds.
"I didn't expect that especially after the rough ride we had in Europe," head coach Wolfgang Staudinger said. "Today, they pulled it together.
"For us going to Europe, it makes it very difficult. All the Europeans train there all the time over years and years in the fall when we train over here.
"We go over there, we have six runs and we have to compete on the spot and that's not an even playing field. When they come over here, we have a bit of an advantage and we do what they do over there."
A pair of 15-year-old Calgary track records fell Friday as Loch bettered the 44.516 seconds set by Italy's Armin Zoeggeler in 2002.
Loch's German teammates Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken put down a time of 43.421 seconds in their first doubles run, when the air temperature was an unseasonably warm 13 degrees.
The German duo erased the previous Calgary track mark of 43.564 owned by Americans Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin.
It's standard procedure in the international luge community to buy thank-you beer for the track's crew when a record falls.
So the Germans planned to lay in a supply for Calgary's track manager Tyler Seitz, icemeister Ritchie Monuik and their staff.
"If you break a record, then they get beer," Benecken stated.
Added Loch: "It makes me happy to beat this old track record."
Seitz said the arid Alberta air helped keep the track free of frost.
Dry ice finish
"We were able to keep the shades down through the sunniest part of the day and we were able to open them for the three o'clock race," Seitz explained.
"The sun had gone down far enough where it wasn't strong enough to really affect the ice quality.
"It's also really dry out there. When the temperature of the ice is colder than the dewpoint, it will create frost on the ice. In this weather, we were able to keep the ice really cold without building frost because it was dry."
Eggert and Benecken posted a two-run total time of one minute 26.875 seconds for doubles gold.
Austrians Peter Penz and Georg Fischler were second in 1:27.018 and reigning Olympic champions Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt third in 1:27.111.
Canada's Tristan Walker and Justin Snith were sixth. Their start times ranked third and fourth in their two runs respectively.
"We're on the podium every time when we load into the sled and it's ours to lose on the way down," Walker said.
"That's frustrating, but we know we have to work now and it's definitely not a time to be complacent."
Women's singles and the mixed-gender team relay go Saturday to conclude the Viessman World Cup in Calgary.