A group of eight athletes will head into PyeongChang this February with hopes of achieving their goal of sliding into the history books as the first Canadians to win an Olympic luge medal.
The Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Luge Association announced the five men and three women who will hit the start handles in PyeongChang for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
“We are assembling a group, who over the last four years, have demonstrated they can deliver under the most intense pressure and perform at the highest level,” said Tim Farstad, executive director, Canadian Luge Association. “A mix of veteran leadership with youthful energy and drive will guide this fiercely determined team who dream of playing their part of contributing to Team Canada’s medal count.”
Three-time Olympians Alex Gough (Calgary) and Sam Edney (Calgary), the most successful athletes in the history of the program, will lead the group of eight vying to gain thousandths of a second over their competition to win the top honours.
A winner of 25 World Cup and two World Championship singles medals, Gough was fourth in women’s singles and in relay at Sochi 2014. She will be joined by 2014 Olympic teammate, Kim McRae (Calgary), who was fifth in Sochi. McRae is a winner of three World Cup singles medals and a bronze at the 2017 World Championships. Brooke Apshkrum (Calgary) will make her first trip to the Games. The 18-year-old won a gold medal at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
Edney headlines the Canadian men in singles racing. Since a heart-breaking fourth-place finish in the team relay at the Sochi Games, Edney became the first Canadian male to win a World Cup race in 2014 and claimed bronze at the World Cup test event in PyeongChang last season. Just two weeks ago, he added a World Cup silver in Calgary.
He will be joined by Mitch Malyk (Calgary), who has helped Canada win multiple World Cup medals in the team relay and is coming off a fourth-place finish at a recent World Cup in Calgary. Reid Watts (Whistler), an 18-year-old legacy baby from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, will make his Olympic debut. Leading the next generation of Olympic luge athletes, Watts captured the bronze medal at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
“Anytime you go to the Olympics is a realization of a dream,” said Edney. “Having the opportunity to even pursue this dream, and have the chance to compete for a medal, is something few ever get to experience once, let alone four times, so I feel incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to continue chasing this dream for Canada with so many supporters behind me.
“We have a hungry group of athletes that have achieved success at so many levels in our sport. We feel strong and confident that the work has been put in over the last few years, and know that we can now compete with the powerhouse nations in the world of luge. For me personally, I plan on making the most of this opportunity.”
Tristan Walker (Cochrane, AB) and Justin Snith (Calgary), who slid to their third career World Cup medal last week in Lake Placid, NY, will be the lone doubles sled. The most successful doubles team in Canadian history will also play a key role in Canada’s quest for the podium in the team relay.
“To represent Canada at another Olympics means everything to me,” said Walker. “Our goals are to pull the fastest starts we can, and have the best runs that we can. Last weekend proved that if we can achieve that combination then we can be a threat, but we’ll see what the results are after the job is done.”
Each of the six Olympians have all helped Canada win World Championship and World Cup medals in the team relay over the last four years. Canada finished fourth in the spectator-friendly event which made its Olympic debut in Sochi.
“Our lugers are in great form going into the Games and it will be exciting to watch them compete for the podium,” said Isabelle Charest, PyeongChang 2018 Team Canada Chef de Mission. “Best of luck for your preparation. All of Canada will be cheering you on.”
“Canada has high hopes for its luge program at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games,” added the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. “These fine athletes are out to earn our country’s first medal in the discipline. With the amount of training these athletes have put in, combined with their passion and determination, I know this could be their year. Let’s all make sure to cheer on our Canadian Olympic luge team as they go for gold!”
Canada’s luge athletes earned their spots to slide in PyeongChang following a two-year selection process on the FIL World Cup circuit.
The four PyeongChang 2018 luge events will take place at the Olympic Sliding Centre, February 10-15 (Days 1-6).
The list of athletes and coaches nominated are:
Name / Event / Hometown / Birthplace
Brooke Apshkrum / Women’s Singles / Calgary, AB / Calgary, AB
Sam Edney / Men’s Singles Calgary, AB / Calgary, AB
Alex Gough / Women’s Singles / Calgary, AB / Calgary, AB
Mitch Malyk / Men’s Singles / Calgary, AB / Calgary, AB
Kim McRae / Women’s Singles / Calgary, AB / Victoria, BC
Justin Snith / Doubles / Calgary, AB / Calgary, AB
Tristan Walker / Doubles / Cochrane, AB / Calgary, AB
Reid Watts / Men’s Singles / Whistler, BC / Vancouver, BC
Name / Hometown / Position
Jeremiah Barnert / Okotoks, AB / Strength and Conditioning Coach
Bernhard Glass / Oberhof, Germany / Assistant Coach
Frank Soccal / Winterberg, Germany / Coach
Wolfgang Staudinger / Calgary, AB / Head Coach
Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the COC’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Federations in late January 2018.
Story and Photo | Canadian Olympic Committee