Four Calgarians want to change history.
Canada has never won a medal in Olympic luge, but the team relay in Sochi is the event where the drought could be undone.
As people in the sport say, “It’s a one-run bomb.” Women’s veteran Alex Gough leads, and hits a timing pad at the bottom of the track to open the gate for three-time Olympian Sam Edney, who does the same after his run for doubles boys Tristan Walker and Justin Snith.
It looks like a blast.
Sam Edney has been on the national team for over a decade, in that time he’s seen a lot, but nothing like the team relay, “It’s such a fun event, spectators love it, the luge team loves it, the luge circuit loves it. It’s something we all feel really inspired to be at our best and really to enjoy it.”
Canada has adapted well. In 2013 at the Whistler track, the combination of Gough, Edney, Walker/Snith won World Championship silver behind a dominant German team.
This season on the World Cup circuit they are second overall as all countries tune-up the sport’s newest event.
The last to slide is the team within a team, the doubles sled. It is visually intriguing, two athletes laying on top of each other and screaming down an icy track.
Justin Snith and Tristan Walker are friendly and candid about the experience, “You have to learn to work together on the sled without talking at 110 to 140 kilometres per hour. The learning curve, we like to joke that it’s a learning cliff because when you start you crash, and you crash and you crash,” says Snith.
All of the Canadians are excited about the team relay. In almost a childish fashion. It’s endearing, they seem to love rareness of the race.
Snith shows this with his thoughts, “It’s kind of cool going from an individual sport where you have to rely on yourself to a team atmosphere, but you’re still doing the same sport. We do everything together. It’s a really cool unique event in that you don’t get to do it any other time of the year. I think that’s half the fun it’s a one-run bomb with a big team and you all have to lay down a good run.”
The four spend a lot of time in Western Europe together. Unlike the other countries who may get to spend the odd weekend at home, the Canadians are on the road for months at a time. But instead of causing problems, it’s actually helping.
Tristan Walker observes, “I think we have some of the best chemistry with Sam and Alex. Being an individual sport or even doubles I never really understood how much for a team sport the chemistry with your teammates could actually help an individual perform better. I think the chemistry we have with all the members of the relay team is giving us an edge.”
This good-natured group is very serious about a medal. And of course, continuing to re-write Canadian luge history.
WHO: Alex Gough, Sam Edney, Tristan Walker and Justin Snith.
WHAT: Luge team relay
WHEN: Heat 1 of 1 starts Thursday, February 13th at 11:15 am ET / 8:15 am PT