Canadian lugers slide to country's 1st medal at Youth Olympics
Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless take silver in St. Moritz, Switzerland
ST. MORITZ, Switzerland – Two 16-year-old lugers from Whistler, B.C., captured Canada's first medal at the Youth Olympics on Saturday.
With snow falling on the iconic St Moritz-Celerina Olympia Bob Run, the Canadian women's luge duo of Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless slid to silver with their family and friends cheering wildly at the bottom of the track.
"I can't even describe this. Natalie and I came down in fourth after the first run and we were, I wouldn't say disappointed, but it put a fire in our belly. We wanted to climb onto that podium here and we did," Nash said.
In the debut of the women's doubles luge event at any Olympics, the two made history on the most historic track in the world. In fact, the course in St. Moritz is the only one made naturally out of ice and snow.
WATCH | Nash and Corless win Canada's 1st medal at Youth Olympics:
It made for a remarkable winter wonderland setting as the two celebrated their silver medal, draped in Canadian flags.
"I'm lost for words," Corless said. "It was crazy. We were watching the clock and watching the other times. We know we put the best run we could, and it definitely paid off."
Tense moments at the finish
There were tense moments as the duo waited to see if they would make the podium. Sitting fourth after their first run, Nash and Corless applied pressure to the remaining sliders, putting down one of the fastest last runs of the day.
But to add to the drama, there was confusion at the top of the track just before the two started to slide. Questions arose about whether their runners, which are checked by officials before racing, were too warm.
"We weren't even sure what was going on. We thought our steels might be too hot. We made it down though. We fought. And we kept climbing spots," Corless said.
The two paced around the athlete gathering area, watching the last three sleds come down the hill – their stress and emotion evident in their faces.
"At the start we were unsure with the officials. So, we just focused on laying down the best run we could," Nash said.
"It was difficult, but I know Natalie and I wanted to end this on a good note."
The Americans, Russians and Germans were all ahead of the Canadians going into the final run – USA dropped behind Canada. Then the Russians crashed on their final run. That meant no less than a second-place finish for Canada. The Germans were too strong in their last race, placing first in the event.
WATCH | Devin Heroux interviews Canada's 1st medallists:
But to make the move from fourth to second is something Corless and Nash will never forget.
"We're so proud of what we did today," Nash said. "I'm so happy both our families could be here. It was so emotional. We were crying. They were crying. Everyone was crying."
Making history in the sport
Just a month earlier the two made history at their home track in Whistler.
Corless and Nash became the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race. There are women's singles and men's singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. And so, Nash and Corless were able to race.
It was a valuable experience for the two as they prepared to compete in the Youth Olympics.
"I didn't think three years ago when we started doubles this was a possibility," Nash said.
"To be standing here now and make history twice in the last month is definitely not normal for a 16-year-old's life. But I'm very happy this is the life we get to live."
Corless says she hopes they can help put the sport on the map.
"Not many people know luge is a thing so the fact we get to help share this sport around the world is such an amazing feeling."
Proud parents watching it all
Waving Canadians flags with tears in their eyes were the two athlete's parents, waiting with open arms to hug them after the podium ceremony.
"We are so proud of them. We believed in them. They train so hard. We knew they would come home with a medal," Marketa Corless said.
Adrian Corless was bursting with pride.
"They're role models for the rest of the Canadian team. It's been cool to watch their poise," he said.
Nash's parents, David and Julie, talked about the journey getting to this point.
"It's a like a big family now," David said. "We all spend a lot of time together. They're pretty confident and they're driven. This all comes from them. They want this."
Julie fought back tears as she soaked up the moment.
"It's overwhelming," she said.
"They're enjoying this journey. They've embraced and I'm just so proud of how they're carrying themselves."
Speed skater claims bronze
Also on Saturday, Canadian short track speed skater Florence Brunelle won a bronze medal in the 1,000-metre final.
Brunelle, from Trois-Rivières, Que., finished in one minute 30.024 seconds, behind Korean skaters Seo Whi Min (1:29.439) and Kim Chanseo (1:29.538).
WATCH | Brunelle skates to bronze:
It also marks Canada's first-ever medal in the sport at the Youth Olympic Games.
With files from CBC Sports