Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Gough golden in shortened Whistler luge World Cup

At the end of an uncertain week, after sleds were stuck in a prairie snowstorm, Alex Gough laid down one of the best runs of her life to win the women’s singles race at the luge World Cup in Whistler.

The 29-year-old Calgarian had not only the fastest start, but set a track record 38.796 seconds to earn her third career World Cup victory and 23rd career podium.

“It has been a crazy week with all that has gone on, but I have had lots of training here, and I am so comfortable on this track,” Gough said in a Luge Canada release. “I just told myself to sit down in the start, I had a job to do and I’m going to go down the track and see where it lands me. Today it was enough to put me on top of the podium. It is fantastic.”

A pair of Germans, reigning world champion Natalie Geisenberger (38.848) and Tatjana Huefner (38.850), won silver and bronze.

The International Luge Federation was forced to condense the competition to one-run after trucks carrying all of the sleds from last week’s World Cup stop in Lake Placid, New York to the west coast could not get through Manitoba due to heavy snow.

Read: Snow delays sleds, creates long wait for lugers in Whistler

Instead of a full week of training, the lugers could not even get onto the Whistler Sliding Centre track until Saturday morning.

“I have the same routine that I follow regardless of the race. I look at each run as its own so it was just a matter of doing my normal prep today,” said Gough, who, along with her teammates, was battling a cold while they waited for their sleds. “The time off likely helped us all recover, but for me it was really the anticipation of it all this week. I just wanted to get on the track and slide.”

Gough is back on the World Cup circuit full time this season in preparation for PyeongChang 2018 after splitting the last two years with her engineering studies at the University of Calgary. This was her first victory in four years, the last coming in 2012 in Calgary. She captured bronze last week in Lake Placid.

Canada’s top doubles tandem of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith finished fifth for their best result of the season. With a time of 38.728 seconds, they were within a tenth of a second of the podium.