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New-Look Canadian Luge Squad Celebrates Bronze in World Cup Team Relay

Calgary’s Kyla Graham leads young Canucks with 18th-place finish in women’s race

WHISTLER, B.C.—A new crop of Canadian luge athletes made their mark on the international stage by winning the bronze medal in the Viessmann Luge World Cup Team Relay, presented by BMW, at the Whistler Sliding Centre on Saturday afternoon.

Anchored by Olympic silver-medallists Tristan Walker and Justin Snith, Canada’s two youngsters, Kyla Graham (Calgary) and Reid Watts (Whistler, B.C.), stood on the World Cup podium for the first time in their sliding careers.

The Canadians rocketed down the nine-corner icy chute in a combined time of 2:04.413.

“How ‘bout that,” beamed 26-year-old Snith, who made his Olympic debut on the Whistler track in 2010 and was part of Canada’s silver medal-winning relay team at the 2018 Games. “The relay shows the strength of our program from the grassroots all the way to the top. It is three runs; three different disciplines and you have to be solid across the board to land on the podium. That is what we did today at home.”

The relay is a one-run bomb race that starts with one women’s sled, followed by men’s singles and then the doubles. Athletes hit a paddle that hangs over the track past the finish line to clear the track for the next slider with the clock still running.

“This is absolutely awesome,” said Walker. “Justin and I have been through lots of iterations of the relay team in Canada, and through all of the different combinations, we have still been able to get on the podium. It is really exciting we still have that drive – even with the fresh faces on the team.”

A World Cup rookie, Graham was first out of the gate for the Canucks on Saturday. Competing in just her second World Cup race ever, and first relay, the 20-year-old Calgarian shook off the pressure and threw down one of her best runs of the week to give the Canadians a shot at the podium.

“This is pretty incredible. To have this happen at home with my teammates is wonderful,” said Graham. “You definitely feel the pressure to do well for the team in that first position, but the relay is so fun.”

Hometown boy, Watts, also celebrated his first World Cup podium on the 10-year anniversary of his first ever luge run which took place on the world-renowned track that was built down the street from his house in Whistler.

“This is just awesome especially after a disaster of a race for me last night (in men’s singles). This is nice redemption,” said Watts, who was 12th at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. “It’s really something. The goal the first time I went down this track was always to represent Canada. It’s incredible how far I’ve come.”

The Russians knocked off the high-powered German team for top spot on the podium in the action-packed relay. Russia clocked a golden time of 2:04.124, while the Germans were forced into the silver medal position on the podium after clocking-in at 2:04.214.

Complete Team Relay Results:

Kyla Graham Leads Young Canucks in 18th

Earlier in the day, Graham also led a foursome of Canadians in the women’s singles race.

Graham held on to 18th spot with a strong second run on the high-speed Whistler Sliding Centre track, clocking a two-run time of 1:17.829.

“The second run was one of my best runs I had all week here,” said Graham. “I just got comfy on my sled and chilled out. It is just my first year on the World Cup, so this has been a good experience for me. I’m happy with my result.”

Graham struggled in her first run where a skid in corner 12 and 16 put her that 18th position.

Fellow Calgarian, Makena Hodgson finished in 19th place. The 18-year-old was in 15th place after her first rip down Blackcomb Mountain, but dropped four spots in the standings after a rough second run, finishing with a combined time of 1:17.855.

Carolyn Maxwell, also of Calgary, was 19th at 1:17.855, while Brooke Apshkrum (Calgary) was 24th at 1:18.095.

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger posted the top time in each of her two runs to slide away with the gold medal at 1:16.904. Julia Taubitz, also of Germany, was second at 1:17.195. American Emily Sweeney took advantage of a stellar third-place opening-run time to win the bronze medal at 1:17.321

Complete Women’s Singles Results:

The Viessmann Luge World Cup now travels to Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park, December 4-8, 2018.

The Canadian Luge Association is a not-for-profit organization responsible for governing the sport of luge across the country. With the financial backing of from the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee and Own the Podium, the Canadian Luge Association safely recruits and develops the nation’s current and future high-performance luge athletes with the goal of regularly climbing onto the international podium. For more information on the Canadian Luge Association, please visit us at www.luge.ca on the Internet.