Luge conspiracy? Canadian coach calls out Olympic organizers
Canada's Alex Gough (left) waits as coach Wolfgang Staudinger carries a sled at the women's singles luge event during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 10, 2014. (MURAD SEZER/Reuters)
One of Canda’s top-ranking luge officials says his organization will push for a rule change after Canadian lugers were forced to perform with different ice conditions than other contending countries in the team relay.
Walter Corey, the Canadian Luge Association’s high performance director, stopped short of calling it a conspiracy — a suggestion made by Canadian coach Wolfgang Staudinger after Canada finished fourth in the event Thursday.
Staudinger didn’t like the fact the Russian team, which won silver, had a much earlier place in the starting order from Canada and said the ice was much slower by the time the Canadian team started sliding.
Corey didn’t back away from those comments.
“We’ll support our coach 100%,” Corey said. “Whether it’s a conspiracy, whether it’s malicious or not, it’s just a fact that the ice slowed down. We had a number of comments from other nations, team captains, made to our staff, that they shared the same opinion from having a later draw.
“We’re going to move forward and request a rule change that the best sliding nations all end up going first in the draw, like the other three Olympic disciplines do.”
Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli said Friday the Canadians should go through proper channels and not make “free accusations.
“There is a process in any competition,” Felli said. “If (the Canadian coach) has some proof or some argument then he has to put his process to the Luge Federations; then they will make investigations, and then after it will follow the process.
“As you know, in every competition you always have people believing that people have tricks, and I think they should let it go unless they have proof and someone can bring proof to any wrongdoing.”
It was a bittersweet week for the Canadian lugers. They recorded their best finishes in Olympic history in three disciplines, but wound up fourth in all three and came away with no medals.
Alex Gough, the doubles team of Justin Snith and Tristan Walker and the relay teams of Gough, Snith, Walker and Sam Edney, all came in fourth place.
“As we move forward here, it’s interesting that a really brief comment by our coach is distracting from a lot of the great Canadian work that’s happened here,” Corey said.
“We had very high expectations coming into these Games, so, to get program bests and Canadian bests and have four sleds in the top five, across three disciplines, we have to see the positives in that. It’s not like all the work went in for nothing.”
Corey said it will take a long time for Canada to get over the sting of the fourth-place finishes here, given how long it has taken them to come this close. Canada has never won a medal in luge, a sport introduced to the Olympics in 1964.
“Just unfortunately frustrated that we couldn’t take those final steps,” Corey said. “We certainly wish we would have struck here. You never know what next year, next week, the next four years will bring in our sport and this is one of those times where you always want to convert.
“It’s not a moment where you throw an interception in a mid-season game. This was the Super Bowl and it was like losing it three times in a row.”