Walker, Snith lead­ers of Cana­dian luge

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports -

CAL­GARY — If luge teams had cap­tains, Tris­tan Walker and Justin Snith in­her­ited the “C” for Canada.

The re­tire­ments of Alex Gough and Sam Ed­ney made the dou­bles duo of Walker and Snith the most vet­eran slid­ers on Canada’s se­nior team with a com­bined 20 years on the squad.

“It’s def­i­nitely dif­fer­ent, but we kind of planned on it,” Walker said Fri­day at a World Cup in Cal­gary.

“We knew Alex and Sam were re­tir­ing and we knew we were go­ing to have to step into that role as the de facto in-team lead­ers. It’s def­i­nitely some­thing we’re will­ing to take on.”

The 27-year-old Cal­gar­i­ans, along with Gough and Ed­ney, won Olympic re­lay sil­ver in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in Fe­bru­ary.

The only other slider on the Cana­dian team over the age of 21 is Kim McRae, an eight-year vet­eran racing a par­tial sched­ule this sea­son in or­der to pur­sue nurs­ing stud­ies.

The next gen­er­a­tion of Cana­dian slid­ers racing and train­ing along­side Snith and Walker – who have stood on World Cup, world cham­pi­onship and Olympic podi­ums – is cru­cial to de­vel­op­ing young tal­ent, said head coach Wolf­gang Staudinger.

“Very im­por­tant. You need lead­ers in the team for oth­ers to look up to and show that oth­ers can do well,” he said.

But Walker and Snith didn’t get the re­sults they wanted Fri­day, plac­ing ninth in dou­bles.

Reign­ing Olympic cham­pi­ons To­bias Wendl and To­bias Arlt of Ger­many won their first gold of the sea­son ahead of team­mates Toni Eg­gert and Sascha Be­necken in sec­ond.

World Cup lead­ers and Olympic bronze medal­lists Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koller of Aus­tria placed third.

“The first run was not that good, but the sec­ond run was much bet­ter,” Wendl said. “We had the bonus at the start where we were re­ally fast.”

In men’s sin­gles, Aus­tria’s Wolf­gang Kindl won his sec­ond straight gold in Canada af­ter a vic­tory in Whistler last week.

“On the start, it was not my day to­day, but in the track I knew I was re­ally fast,” Kindl said. “I was fast through­out the week in train­ing. Very happy I was the fastest to­day too.”

Rus­sia’s Ro­man Repilov was sec­ond and reign­ing Olympic cham­pion David Gleirscher of Aus­tria fin­ished third. Reid Watts of Whistler was the top Cana­dian in 15th.

Women’s sin­gles and the team re­lay are to­day. Gough will have a re­tire­ment slide prior to the women’s com­pe­ti­tion.

The 31-year-old Cal­gar­ian was the first Cana­dian to win an Olympic medal in luge when she won bronze in women’s sin­gles in Pyeongchang. The re­lay team earned sil­ver two days later.

Walker and Snith re­cov­ered from a ma­jor mis­take in their open­ing run Fri­day to post the sixth-fastest time in their sec­ond.

“The sec­ond run was a lit­tle bit bet­ter, but we still had some pretty big mis­takes on the bot­tom,” Snith said.

“Not to­tally happy with it, but like Tris­tan said, it’s a racing sport and we need to build on it. Take it as a train­ing run for to­mor­row in the re­lay and hope­fully throw a good one down in the re­lay.”

Watts, 19, felt he made gains in Cal­gary af­ter plac­ing 22nd at the Whistler Slid­ing Cen­tre last week.

“Whistler was a lit­tle messy for me, es­pe­cially on the sec­ond run when I made a huge mis­take up at the start,” Watts said. “To­day, def­i­nitely a lot more solid.”

Colton Clarke of Air­drie, Alta., who is a 17-year-old rookie, was 22nd on Fri­day. Matt Rid­dle of Cal­gary placed 23rd.

CP PHOTO

Cana­di­ans Tris­tan Walker, front, and Justin Snith race down the track dur­ing the dou­bles World Cup luge com­pe­ti­tion in Cal­gary on Fri­day.

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