Pandemic keeps Canadian luge team at home to start season

Pandemic keeps Canadian luge team at home to start season

CALGARY — The Canadian luge team will stay home and skip the first portion of the World Cup season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

World Cup races open Nov. 24 in Austria, but Canada will not compete in the first four events of 2020-21.

The team will head to Europe on Dec. 20 for the second half of an important season before the 2022 Winter Olympics.

“We have had weighed all of our options and risks that may arise while travelling with this team of athletes throughout Europe,” Luge Canada high-performance director Sam Edney said in a statement Thursday.

“These athletes are a young group, and obviously quarantine restrictions complicates things for us in bringing them home for the holiday break so we felt the safest thing to do is to stay home, and train on one of the top tracks in the world in our own backyard.”

The senior and development teams will start training Oct. 16 at the Whistler Sliding Centre in B.C. and will remain there for two months.

Canada will compete in four World Cups in 2021, including an Olympic test event in China, as well as the world championship Jan. 26-31 in Konigssee, Germany.

The 2021 world championship was scheduled to be held in Whistler in February, but the International Luge Federation cancelled it because of pandemic travel restrictions into Canada.

“Ideally we want to be competing against the world’s best athletes, but with such a young team, we believe we can capitalize on this very difficult situation for everyone by continuing to focus on our development while centralizing in Whistler,” Edney said.

“I am confident this group will actually come out of this stronger and more prepared together to shine at the 2021 world championships, which is a critical measuring stick of where we are at on the journey to the Beijing Games.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 8, 2020.

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