CALGARY (January 18, 2022) – Two Olympic medallists will lead a new generation of luge athletes into their first Olympic Winter Games at Beijing 2022 as Luge Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee nominated three women and three men to Team Canada.
The athletes and coaches nominated are:
Natalie Corless (Whistler, B.C.) – Women’s Singles
Trinity Ellis (Pemberton, B.C.) – Women’s Singles
Makena Hodgson (Calgary, Alta.) – Women’s Singles
Justin Snith (Calgary, Alta.) – Doubles
Tristan Walker (Cochrane, Alta) – Doubles
Reid Watts (Whistler, B.C.) – Men’s Singles
Wolfgang Staudinger (Calgary, Alta.) – Head Coach
Bernhard Glass (Oberhof, Germany) – Coach
Duncan Kennedy (Lake Placid, United States) – Coach
“This is a determined group of athletes replete with veteran experience, youthful energy and drive. Tristan and Justin have proven they can deliver results on the ultimate stage, while Reid is now ready to make his mark at the premier sporting event,” said Tim Farstad, Executive Director, Luge Canada. “With those three Olympic veterans leading the way, Beijing 2022 will be a critical measuring stick for the young women’s team in their continued development, with the ultimate goal of peaking at the 2026 and 2030 Games.”
Walker and Snith will be making their fourth trip to the Olympic Winter Games. In addition to being key members of Canada’s silver medal-winning relay team at PyeongChang 2018, the most successful Canadian luge tandem have two top-five finishes in doubles racing at the Games.
A bronze medallist at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games, Watts will look to build on his 12th-place finish from his Olympic debut in men’s singles in 2018.
A trio of Canadians will achieve their Olympic dreams in women’s singles. A silver medallist in doubles at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games, Corless is the youngest member of the new group of Canadian luge athletes at 18 years old. She is one of three members of the squad from Canada’s west coast.
Ellis will head to her first Games after wrapping up her third World Cup season at the young age of 19. Ellis demonstrated her potential with a top-10 finish at the Olympic Test Event at the Yanqing Sliding Centre in November. A World Cup rookie this year, Hodgson, 20, rounds out the women’s team.
“Six months ago I would have thought going to the Games was practically impossible, but after an exciting season, full of ups and downs I am thrilled that I get to be a part of Team Canada for the 2022 Olympics,” said Corless. “I was still quite young when the Vancouver Olympics took place, however I will never forget watching the Olympic torch getting run past my house or when one of the figure skaters gave me her flowers. It was so inspiring to see those athletes compete which was the beginning of my own Olympic dream.
“When I first started luge I had no idea of the amazing journey it would take me on. However, with the amazing staff and coaches, along with the facilities the 2010 Games produced, I was able to thrive in this competitive race environment which has led me where I am today. I am so grateful that I am now the one that gets to share this wonderful experience with the world.”
Canada’s luge athletes were nominated to the team while connecting with elementary school students in Canada’s north. Immediately following being named to the team by Alex Gough, Canada’s two-time Olympic medallist and most accomplished luge athlete, the athletes inspired students in the northern communities of Sioux Lookout, Mine Centre, Fort Frances, Nestor Falls to “Chase their Dreams.”
“Looking at the history of the luge program over the last decade, we are proof dreams do come true if you set goals, work hard and persevere through the ups and downs of the journey,” said Walker, who led the presentation to the students. “When Justin and I made our first Olympic team in 2010, it was unthinkable that a luge athlete from Canada could stand on the Olympic podium. I want these students to know the dreams for all of us on this team – in life and sport – began as children in school.
“Our journey to the Olympic podium did not come without significant challenges, so I want these kids to see us as good examples of what believing in your dreams can accomplish if you stay committed through the good and tough times and work together as a team.”
Team Canada won its first Olympic medals in luge at PyeongChang 2018 – a bronze from Alex Gough in women’s singles and a silver in the team relay, which included both Walker and Snith.
Luge will take place February 5 to February 10 (Days 1 to 6 ) at the Yanqing Sliding Centre.
“It is with great pleasure that I welcome these athletes to Team Canada,” said Catriona Le May Doan, Team Canada’s Beijing 2022 Chef de Mission. “They will represent the maple leaf led by veterans and Olympic medalists Justin Snith and Tristan Walker. The luge team made history in 2018 and that team including Justin and Tristan have helped inspire a new generation of sliders to the sport. Canada will slide with pride in Beijing with this team of veterans and rookies and we will be cheering them on!”
Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Organizations.
Photo and story courtesy of the Canadian Olympic Committee.