In the fast-arriving news from Day 2 of PyeongChang 2018, one speedster’s contributions to Canadian sport that can’t be missed is that of four-time Olympic luger Sam Edney.
On Sunday night, the only thing sweeter for Edney would’ve been if he had found himself on the podium at Alpensia Sliding Centre. Instead, he’ll have to do with the best-ever Canadian Olympic performance in men’s singles. He was sixth at PyeongChang but the totality of his contribution to this discipline is much greater.
Part of a tight-knit group of Canadian luge athletes that compete for world cup and world championship accolades in between Winter Games, Edney and co. have been making a gut-busting effort to get Canada on to an Olympic podium during competition. Edney will be exiting the sport as an athlete at the end of the Games.
“Right now I’m going to soak up this moment and enjoy this evening, Edney said.
“I still have a career best ever and a best ever finish for a Canadian, even though there’s disappointment to not be on the podium.”
The race was anything but predictable, as two-time defending Olympic champion Felix Loch hit a wall on his final run from to go from first place to fifth. His fellow German Johannes Ludwig had been creeping up the standings from eighth to fifth after three runs, just ahead of Edney. Sitting outside of medal contention through four runs, Loch’s mistake allowed Ludwig to jump onto the podium in third place, while Chris Mazdzer of the United States won silver, and Austrian David Gleirscher, who set a track record on the first day of competition, ended strongly to win gold.
Edney had moved up to fifth from ninth through two runs on Saturday. On Sunday, the Canadian couldn’t replicate his second effort in his third run and dropped to sixth, where he’d remain.
“It was pretty consistent overall but I was a bit off on the third run there and it put me just behind the ball enough that I couldn’t make up the speed on this fourth run.”
In sliding sports, where cumulative milliseconds make the difference between winning medals or going home empty-handed, those who put up a series of consistent runs are usually rewarded. Three of Gleirscher’s runs were among the four fastest, allowing him to capitalize on Loch’s error.
“It shows the difficulty of this course and that corner nine can really throw you a bit of a curve ball every once in a while,” Edney said showing empathy for Loch’s plight. “It’s something that each athlete really has to handle.”
“My heart goes out to Felix. He is a great champion and I’m sure he’s feeling quite a lot of pain right now.”
Edney and the Canadian luge contingent can relate to what Loch is feeling. There were three fourth place finishes in Sochi (including the team relay that featured Edney), keeping Canada off that coveted podium in one of the few Olympic winter disciplines in which the maple flag has yet to appear in a medal position.
Edney has certainly done his part in trying to elevate the sport in Canada, and give it international prominence. He improved from 19th in Turin to seventh at Vancouver in his first two Olympics. Despite a dip in progression with 11th at Sochi, Edney ends his Olympic singles run with a best-ever performance for himself and his country.
“I will enjoy it with my family, my wife is here, and then reset.”