Canadian Young Guns Devin Wardrope and Cole Zajanski Fire into Fourth at Eberspächer Luge World Cup in Whistler … Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless slide to sixth place in historic women’s doubles debut
WHISTLER, B.C.—Devin Wardrope and Cole Zajaski clenched the torch for a new generation of Canadian luge athletes and slid to a career-best fourth-place finish at the Eberspächer Luge World Cup on
Saturday afternoon in Whistler, B.C.
Competing in just their seventh World Cup race ever, the Calgary-based sliders took on the big boys in the sport, narrowly missing the podium with a time of 1:16.763.
“It’s amazing. (This result) says we are in a good spot and being the first World Cup of the year, I couldn’t be happier,” said the 20-year-old Wardrope.
Rocking matching moustaches, the Calgary-based duo finished .023 seconds off the podium behind the legends of men’s doubles racing in their first Eberspächer Luge World Cup race on home ice at the
Whistler Sliding Centre.
“We put so much time in sliding on this track, so it is just nice to have it finally pay off,” said Zajanski, 21. “Our goals are just to put two consistent runs together in each race. It means a lot to have a good result here.”
Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken clocked the top times in both heats to win the gold medal with a
time of 1:16.554. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt were second at 1:16.605.
Austria’s Juri Gatt and Ricardo Schopf edged out the Canucks for the bronze medal at 1:16.740.
The Canadian youngsters grabbed the spotlight just hours after the program’s most successful doubles luge athletes– Tristan Walker and Justin Snith – slid into retirement by taking one final run, forerunning the Eberspächer Luge World Cup doubles race.
“They have been great mentors for us when we were coming up, first starting doubles. They were the ones we could base stuff off and give us advice,” said Wardrope. “They are definitely going to be on speed dial (throughout our career).”
The young Canadian tandem, who were 13th in their first World Cup start in Altenberg, Germany two years ago, and eighth at a World Cup on the Olympic Track in Beijing last season, gave Canada’s Walker and Snith all they could handle in earning the lone Canadian doubles spot at the 2022 Olympics.
“It’s time to hand things over to the young guys. It feels so nice that we were able to do one last season with those boys,” said Walker following his farewell run. “They have really impressed us, and there was a couple of times last year we thought it may have been them doing the Olympic race for Canada. We are super proud of them, and I feel like we are leaving the program in good hands with them, and that feels really good.”
Two Whistler-based women made a bit of history of their own Saturday afternoon on the track they grew up on. Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless became the first Canadians to compete in women’s doubles racing on the Eberspächer Luge World Cup.
The 19-year-old friends teamed up to finish sixth with a two-run time of 1:18.526.
“We were hoping for a podium finish today, but we laid down the two best runs we had, and we are coming away from this very happy,” said Nash.
Women’s doubles debuted on the Eberspächer Luge World Cup last weekend in Igls, Austria. It was the first time the race discipline was on display in Canada.
“It’s really inspiring. Women’s doubles have already inspired so may new athletes to join women’s doubles and has brought a lot of attention to luge as well. I’m really hoping this is going to help develop the sport in the next quadrennial,” added Corless.
Italy’s Andrea Votter and Marion Oberhofer finished on top Saturday with a time of 1:17.912. Austria’s Selina Egle and Lara Kipp were second at 1:17.953. Germany’s Jessica Degenhardt and Cheyenne Rosenthal slid to a bronze-medal time of 1:17.968.
Nash and Corless are no strangers to racing doubles. They were 16 years old when they made history competing in a Eberspächer Luge World Cup doubles race against the men at the Whistler Sliding Centre. Later that year, they won the silver when the women’s doubles discipline debuted at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games.
“Caitlin and I have been at the forefront of women’s doubles, and every single day we are developing with the sport,” said Corless. “We are developing our abilities doing singles and doubles which can be a lot to handle, but overall, we are getting experience every day.”
The Canadian team will now travel with the Eberspächer Luge World Cup to Park City, Utah.
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