In the sliding sports, experience is important. You're expected to do well at home and on the tracks you know the best, and stealing a gold medal from the home team is extremely challenging to say the least — yet the Canadian bobsleigh team has done it three times so far this year in Europe, including twice this past weekend.
Pilot Lyndon Rush and Jesse Lumsden combined to win the men's two-man bobsleigh race by close to half a second last weekend. "This is a short track so you expect the times to be close, but we had things set up really well this week," said Rush. "Jesse jarred his back loading in the first push so we said to each other the second run was going to be a hard hat run. He dug deep and gave me everything he had to get it done today."
Said Lumsden: "I loaded a little earlier on the second run to avoid any skidding... I hate slowing down on my second push more than anything, but I just wanted to make sure things were clean for Lyndon."
The Latvian team snuck into the second spot ahead of the Germans, with the Germany team piloted by Francesco Friedrich pulling up third.
Team Rush now has a sizable lead in the overall rankings for two-man bobsleigh, although the four-man team is continuing to be a work in progress. Rush was ninth on the next day of competition.
Last weekend also saw Kaillie Humphries win her 10th consecutive World Cup podium going back to last season, a tally that includes nine gold medals. She also won her second gold medal on the European leg of the World Cup circuit, this time with a convincing win at Konigssee, Germany. Humphries and teammate Chelsea Valois won both runs to finish in 1:43.07, almost half a second ahead of two German teams.
"It is awesome to win anywhere, but extra nice to win in Europe," said Humphries. "It is a different stage winning in Europe because you are away from home, not as comfortable, and we have so little time to train on these tracks."
The second Canadian sled piloted by Jenny Ciochetti was 17th.
There was also a World Cup skeleton competition. In the women's race, two Canadians finished in the top five with Mellisa Hollingsworth fourth and Sarah Reid fifth.
In men's skeleton, Canada's Jon Montgomery placed sixth, his best result this season. Eric Neilson was eighth and John Fairbairn 15th.
Gough fifth in luge
In recent years, only one athlete has been able to break the German stranglehold on the women's luge podium, and that's Canada's Alex Gough. She's the only non-German woman since 1997 to win a World Cup race, and now has eight podiums to her credit over three seasons.
While she's still fast, she wasn't fast enough to pull ahead of the German team at Oberhof, Germany on Saturday, placing fifth behind four German lugers. Teammates Dayna Clay, Kim McRae and Arianne Jones were 13th, 17th and 18th respectively.
"This schedule with five of nine races on German tracks makes it very difficult for the rest of the world, but we can't make excuses," said Canadian coach Wolfgang Staudinger. "We have to deal with it."
Germans also swept the men's podium, with Canada's Sam Edney in 18th.
The doubles team of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith did not compete with Walker suffering from a minor concussion. That also cost Canada a chance to compete in the new Team Relay event, where they have won four medals in the past two seasons.