Early Christmas Present: Ten Lugers Luging

The Canadian Luge Association has nominated its 10 athletes for Team Canada’s 2010 Olympic roster, and it is an impressive and experienced group. It counts three women, three men, and two doubles teams.

The luge team, one of three sledding sports to be contested at Whistler Sliding Centre, will be pulled primarily by veterans. Eight of the 10 athletes have already felt Olympic competition, providing Canada with a competitive edge. This time they’ll be on a “home track”, in front crowds of red and white.

One of the women’s headliners is Calgary’s Alex Gough. A powerful luger, Gough posted Canada’s best-ever finish in the sport – a fourth-place finish at the World Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y. last year. She equaled that fourth-place result last month at a World Cup event in Austria, serving notice that she is a true medal threat in any race.

Sharing Gough’s passion and drive is Regan Lauscher (Red Deer, Alta.) who is responsible for Canada’s only World Cup silver medal in luge. The 2010 Games will be Lauscher’s third time on the Canadian Olympic Team. She sped to 10th place in 2006, 12th in 2002.

Joining them is 23-year old Meaghan Simister, who has continued to show some of the fastest starts on tracks within the luge world. At a World Cup event in December, Simister notably placed in the top-10.

The men’s team features three close veteran companions from Calgary. Rising to prominence of late is Calgary’s Sam Edney, 25, who was a 2006 Olympian in Torino (19th). Edney had a huge start to this season by capturing a career-best fifth-place World Cup finish in Calgary, then an 8th-place result the next month.

Ian Cockerline joins Edney in Whistler on the icy luge track, representing Canada in 2010. Cockerline, who has several career top-15 World Cup finishes, had to hold off a strong up-and-coming luger in Brendan Hauptman for the final Olympic berth.

Rounding out the men’s singles team is 26-year-old Jeff Christie, who is a veteran of seven World Championships, 10 World Cup seasons (top result 5th) and Torino 2006.

As a team-within-the-team, brothers Chris and Mike Moffat (Calgary) will suit up again for the Canadian Olympic Team in doubles luge. The duo competed in 2006 and 2002 and placed 6th in each – which also matches their top result on the World Cup circuit and at the World Championships (in 2001). Last season, the Moffat brothers posted an impressive four top-10 results.

They are joined by the young tandem of Tristan Walker (Cochrane, Alta.) Justin Snith (Calgary). Walker and Snith previously made a splash on the junior circuit, winning many medals, and will look to bring that success to the big stage.

Leading them all is coach Wolfgang Staudinger, a native of Germany, who captured an Olympic bronze medal at the 1988 Games in Calgary. He is joined by assistant coaches Steffan Skell and Robert Fegg.

Be sure to watch these Canadians take on the world’s best in 2010. Olympic men’s singles will race February 13-14; the women will compete on February 15 and 16; and hitting the track on February 17 are the doubles.