Canadians Devin Wardrope and Cole Zajanski Double Up in 13th at Luge World Championships
OBERHOF, Ger.—Canada’s Devin Wardrope and Cole Zajaski gained valuable international experience while leading the way for a new generation of Canadian luge athletes in their first World Championships, sliding to 13th place on Saturday in Oberhof, Germany.
The Calgary-based sliders battled to find the fast line while posting the 14th fastest start and downtimes in each run, for a combined time of 1;25.535.
“It was a tough race for us. We didn’t put down the two runs that we hoped for, and in the end, we couldn’t find the speed that we needed,” said the 20-year-old Wardrope. “This result is the start of a long road that we hope to traverse and become the best athletes we can. We know the speed can be there. It’s just about pushing a little more and putting down two consistent runs.”
The young Canadians were thrown everything they can handle in their first trip to the the 12-corner track that delivered all they can handle.
“Oberhof is a unique, but really fun track. It was a little nerve wracking and being our first Worlds there was a bit more pressure,” added Wardrope. “It flows very smoothly when you get it right while still being very technical. In my eyes, we still have a lot left on the table sliding wise and I’m excited to come back here and get another chance to improve on the race we had today.”
Thousands of spectators lined the technical icy chute, presenting a whole new world for the Canucks.
“The atmosphere here is awesome – the best on Tour,” added the 21-year-old Zajanski, who has had experience on the German chute. “Oberhof is my favourite track. It’s quite technical at first but once you get more experience you can start to feel how the track flows together and then the speed follows.
“It was a bit of a disappointing result, but it gives us a more focused path on the areas in which we have to work on.”
The top sleds in the world climbed to the top of the leaderboard. Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken were crowned World Champions with a time of 1:23.517.
Their teammates, Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, claimed the silver with a time of 1:23.688.
Austria’s Yannick Mueller and Armin Frauscher stopped the clock at 1:23.709 for the bronze.
Trinity Ellis led a trio of Canadians with an 18th-place finish in the women’s World Championship singles race.
Ellis, of Pemberton, B.C., put down two steady runs for a combined time of 1:25.448.
“It was an interesting race today. The athletes definitely showed they are talented, but we also saw the gaps that we will need to focus on to fill,” said Robert Fegg, head coach, Canadian Lue Team. “We have the youngest team right now with lots of potential.
“For many on our team, it’s the first time they have seen so many spectators around a track and first World Championships which comes with a different atmosphere. It is a good first experience and we will continue searching for consistency.”
The Germans swept the women’s podium. Anna Berreiter was first at 1:23.991. Julia Taubitz slid to the silver medal with a time of 1:24.049, while Dajana Eitberger grabbed the bronze in a time of 1:24.107.
Caitlin Nash, of Whistler, B.C., and Calgary’s Carolyn Maxwell, did not qualify for the final heat with the top-20. Nash placed 22nd, while Maxwell slid to 30th spot.