World Cup Luge Rookies Cole Zajanski and Devin Wardrope Slide to Eighth in Beijing
—Olympian Reid Watts steady in 16th in men’s singles race—
BEIJING, Chn.—Two teenage Canadian luge athletes – Cole Zajanski and Devin Wardrope – had the race of their lives finishing eighth in doubles action at the International Luge Federation’s Olympic Test Event in Beijing on Saturday.
Competing against the best in the sport, the two Calgarians were a model of consistency while sliding through all 16 corners of the Yanqing National Sliding Centre which will host the 2022 Olympic Winter games in three months.
Feeding off their victory in Friday’s Nation’s Cup qualifying race, Wardrope, who just turned 20 this August, and the 19-year-old Zajanski, clocked a two-run time of 1:58.944.
“We were really happy with our Nation’s Cup results and hoped to carry that momentum into our World Cup runs,” said Wardrope. “We were pretty happy with our runs today, however, we did make some mistakes in the bottom of the track that we would have liked to have cleaned up.”
The Canadian duo, who were 13th in their only other World Cup start last year in Altenberg, Germany, posted the eighth fastest time in both runs despite being much slower than a dominant and experienced men’s field off the start.
“We are very excited to have this result in just our second ever doubles World Cup race,” added Wardrope. “The track here is very unique and unlike anything we have ever slid on. The facilities and the track architecture here are truly one of a kind.”
Inspired by the medal winning performances of Canada’s most successful doubles team ever – Tristan Walker (Cochrane, Alta.) and Justin Snith (Calgary) – the young Canucks hope to make their own Olympic dreams a reality in February.
Walker and Snith, who made their first of three Olympic starts in 2010 as teenagers themselves, will continue to mentor the young Canucks on the track to Beijing. Top-five finishers in the doubles race at the last two Olympics, and part of Canada’s 2018 medal-winning relay team, Walker and Snith were 14th on Saturday in Beijing with a time of 1:59.431.
Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the gold in Beijing with a time of 1:57.610. Austria’s Thomas Steu and Lorenz Koller locked up the silver medal with a time of 1:57.819. Latvia’s Andris Sics and Juris Sics rounded out the doubles podium with a third-place time of 1:58.039.
Canada’s Reid Watts had one of his top performances in the last Olympic quadrennial, finishing in 16th in the men’s individual race.
One month removed from his 23rd birthday, the Whistler, B.C. resident who was 12th in his Olympic Games debut in PyeongChang, punched the clock at 1:56.570.
Watts finished less than two seconds off the podium pace in an extremely tight men’s field.
The German men swept the singles podium. Johannes Ludwig finished on top with a time of 1:54.597. Felix Loch was second at 1:44.451, while Max Langenhan slid to the bronze-medal step of the podium at 1:55.455.
The Olympic Test Event wraps on Sunday in Beijing with the women’s singles and team relay races.
Complete Results in Beijing: https://www.fil-luge.org/en/multimedia/eberspaecher-world-cup-8
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