Canada's Gough tops World Cup luge podium in Whistler
Competition reduced to single run instead of usual 2
Canadian Alex Gough won the women's World Cup luge race at the Whistler Sliding Centre on Saturday night, as a very strange week on the circuit began winding down.
Gough, from Calgary, won the single-heat competition in 38.796 seconds. Germans took second and third, with Natalie Geisenberger finishing in 38.848 and Tatjana Huefner in 38.850.
It's Gough's second World Cup medal of the season and 23rd of her career after winning the bronze in Lake Placid last weekend.
"This is one of my home tracks, so it was great to come out here and have an amazing run and to see that land me on top of the podium," Gough said.
Racers ordinarily get two runs at a World Cup, but this competition was truncated because sleds for most racers didn't arrive until Friday night because of shipping delays. Nations Cup races were cancelled, meaning some athletes were stuck in Whistler all week and never got a chance to train or compete.
"I was really excited to get back on a sled and get sliding," Gough said. "We've been in kind of a holding pattern for four days.
"We were fortunate to have a bit of a break between training and the race and made the most of it."
Victoria's Kimberly McRae finished 19th in 39.518 seconds after winning silver in last week's World Cup event.
Later Saturday, Tristan Walker and Justin Snith of Calgary were Canada's top finishers in the men's doubles luge event, crossing the finish line in 38.728 for fifth place.
Germany took first and second, with Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken in 38.542 and Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arit in 38.570. Peter Penz and Georg Fischer of Austria won the bronze medal in 38.642.
"It's a step in the right direction from where we've finished so far this year, but a little frustrating because any time you're within a tenth of a second from the podium, you just kind of think about what you could've done differently," said Walker. "I don't think we left much out on the ice tonight."
"We're comfortable sliding here," Snith added. "We've had hundreds of runs here, if not pushing a thousand now, so it's just another couple of runs here. I think [the condensed training] played a bit of an advantage into our hands today. We tried to take advantage as much as we could, and ended up with fifth."
Walker said the pair needs to work on their consistency as the season progresses.
"We pull one of the fastest starts in the world, so we need to keep using that and really try to stay ahead of the pack after," he said. "We know we can be on the podium from pulling a start, so we need to try to get the sled downhill as clean as possible."
The second Canadian sled, carrying Pemberton, B.C.'s Adam Shippit and Matthew Riddle, finished in 18th place in 39.284. This season is their first on the World Cup circuit after making the jump from last year's junior world tour.
Calgary's Sam Edney was the top Canadian in the men's singles race in 12th with a one-run time of 50.405. American Tucker West won gold in 50.109.
Mitchel Malyk of Calgary was 23rd while Reid Watts of Whistler, B.C., in his first year on the World Cup circuit, was 26th.