Reid Watts may not have had too many expectations heading into his first Olympics, but it's safe to say he blew any he may have been harbouring right out of the water.
The Whistler luge athlete - and a legacy of the 2010 Games - finished 12th overall in the men's singles event with a cumulative four-run time of 3:11.608. The 19-year-old picked the right time to peak: PyeongChang marks his top international result since joining the World Cup circuit.
"It was absolutely incredible,” Watts said Feb.11 from South Korea.
“To have some of my four best runs ever when it really mattered. I was struggling with consistency throughout the World Cup season and to have four consistent runs on such a tough track was all I wanted.
Watt’s also credited local support as helping him get the results.
“All the support from my friends,family and the whole community of Whistler made this such an incredible experience for me. I can’t thank everybody enough!"
In an earlier interview with Pique Watts explained his Games’ plan. “I just want to keep making progress.
“At the Games, I want to keep things simple, keep things normal, have four clean runs and just see what I've got."
And have four clean runs he did.
Watts kicked off the competition on Feb. 10, with his 12th-place finish serving as the highest Canadian result in the first heat. He successfully conquered the track's tricky ninth corner to clock in a time of 47.960, only 0.308 seconds off the leader's pace. Later that day, he managed to further improve that ranking, landing in 10th place during the second run. This time, he crossed the finish line in 47.895 - followed by a celebratory fist pump.
The second run saw Watts fall behind Canadian veteran Sam Edney, of Calgary, who managed to slide into fourth-place for Canada's top result in the second run.
The following day (Feb. 11), Watts managed to keep up the consistency in his third run. He slid to 11th, one spot behind teammate Edney, with a time 47.787. In the fourth and final run, he held onto that 11th-place spot, with Edney moving taking sixth - marking Canada's best-ever result in men's luge at the Games - and teammate Mitch Malyk, also of Calgary, landing behind Watts in 16th.
It was a remarkable upgrade from Watts' 21st-place finish at the PyeongChang World Cup race last year, and from his 30th-place ranking in this season's World Cup standings.
With Watts' impressive result on the world's biggest stage, coupled with four-time Olympian Edney's plans to retire after the PyeongChang Winter Games, the Whistlerite's Olympic future is looking bright.
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