Canada further solidified its place as a medal favourite in luge team relay at the upcoming 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics with a podium performance over the weekend in Austria.
The Canadian crew of Alex Gough, Sam Edney, Tristan Walker and Justin Snith slid to a second-place finish in the World Cup race held Sunday, Nov. 24 at Igls, the first relay of the season.
The result followed a great showing from Sam Edney in men's singles on Nov. 23, when he equalled a career-best finish on a European track by placing sixth.
The team finished less than four-tenths of a second back of the powerhouse German team, which won the race that features a men's, women's and doubles sled.
"Silver was a huge day for us," said Edney in a release. "Going into an Olympic year, it's nice to show ourselves we are still there."
The luge relay will be an Olympic medal event for the first time at the Winter Games in Sochi in less than three months. Canada reached the podium in three of six World Cup races last season in addition to its silver-medal finish during the world championships held in Whistler.
Italy finished third in Sunday's race, clocking in .094 seconds behind the Canadian foursome.
"When we broke into the medals a few years ago we were a young team with potential," said Edney. "You can't help but realize now we are a medal threat at the Games with our past results.
"We trained all summer knowing teams would be putting lots of focus and pressure into the relay this year. We did the same and wanted to come into this race showing the strength of our team."
Edney rebounded from a tough World Cup opener in singles competition — he placed 20th the previous weekend at Lillehammer, Norway — to post a historic result at Igls on Saturday.
"I'm pumped with this result," said Edney, 29. "I understand this is the best finish by a Canadian male in Igls so that feels good. I've been close here before, but something always went awry so it's great to be in the mix."
Germany's Felix Loch won the race, followed by countryman David Moller and Italy's Dominik Fischnaller. Calgary's Mitchel Malyk finished 23rd.
In women's racing on Saturday, Alex Gough was unable to return to the top three after a bronze at Lillehammer. She finished seventh at Igls, coming across the line four-tenths off an all-German podium.
Canadian luger Arianne Jones placed 19th and Kim McRae finished 24th. Natalie Geisenberger slid to victory as German athletes swept the top four positions. Tatjana Hufner was second and Anke Wischnewski placed third.
Also Sunday, Walker and Snith finished 12th in doubles competition. Germany occupied the top two steps of the podium, with Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken taking the victory and Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finishing second. The Austrian duo of Georg Fischler and Peter Penz earned bronze.
The World Cup tour is in Winterberg, Germany this week, then arrives at the Whistler Sliding Centre for races taking place Dec. 6 and 7.
"I am looking forward to next week in Winterberg, and then getting back on home ice in Whistler," said Edney, who placed fifth at the 2013 world championships. "That is a big focus of mine for the first half of the season."