Heartbreak for Canada's luge relay team

Calgary's Sam Edney and Alex Gough watch the scoreboard together during the luge relay team event...

Calgary's Sam Edney and Alex Gough watch the scoreboard together during the luge relay team event at the Sanki Sliding Center, in Sochi, Russia, on Thursday February 13, 2014, (Didier Debusschere/QMI Agency)

Ted Wyman, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:44 PM ET

SOCHI, RUSSIA - The heartbreak just keeps on coming for the Canadian luge team at the Olympic Winter Games.

Becoming contenders for the first time since the sport was introduced in 1964, the Canadians pushed for the podium in three events but, stunningly, came away fourth each time.

The Canadian luge relay team of Alex Gough, Sam Edney, Justin Snith and Tristan Walker took the latest fourth-place finish Thursday night at the Sanki Sliding Center. They finished just one-tenth of a second behind the bronze-medal winning team from Latvia.

Calgary native Gough placed fourth in the women's singles race on Tuesday and Walker and Snith placed fourth in doubles on Wednesday.

Before Gough's race on Tuesday no Canadian had finished higher than fifth place in any Olympic luge event. Canada has never won a medal in luge.

"I feel awful we didn't get the job done," said Edney, also of Calgary.

"I hope (Canadians) get to see how exciting the Olympics are for us lugers, how we get to enjoy this. But it's tough because we know we were so close to getting a medal."

Germany won the gold medal in the relay and took the top spot on the podium in all four luge events this week. The Canadians are coming much closer to getting that first medal, but the Germans are in a league of their own.

"It's been a really hard couple of days," said Walker of Cochrane, Alberta. "It won't sink in until later that we almost just made it."

In the relay event, a new medal sport at the Olympics, four sliders took turns racing and the times were added up to determine the winners.

Gough went first and when she reached the finish area, had to tap a shield to open the gate for the next slider. Edney did the same thing and then the doubles team of Walker and Snith came down the track.

Just like in the individual event on Tuesday, Gough finished fourth among women in the relay. Edney, who was 11th in the individual men's luge, was fifth in the relay and Walker and Snith were also fifth.

"It's really tough, but I'm really proud of what we accomplished this year," said Snith, of Calgary. "Like our silver medal in the team relay at the 2013 world championships."

In the big picture, the Canada team has taken big strides and has to be happy with the overall improvement since 2010. Along with the three fourth-place finishes, Canada got a fifth from up-and-comer Kim McRae of Calgary, who pushed for the podium in her first Olympics at age 21.

"The whole team is gutted," Luge Canada high performance director Walter Cory said of the three fourth-place finishes. "This is brutal to take but we can't lose sight of what we have accomplished and where we have come from as a team! That was heart attack racing... It was so close."

SECONDS TOO FAR

The dream of improving her heartbreaking fifth-place Olympic finish in 2010 is all but dead for Canada's Mellisa Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth, of Eckville, Alta., is 16th in the women's skeleton after the first two heats, which were run at the Sanki Sliding Center Thursday. She would need to make up 2.49 seconds in the final two runs Friday to have a chance at a medal, which is nearly impossible in a sport won and lost by milliseconds.

Canada's Sarah Reid was eighth after the first two runs and sits 1.42 seconds behind leader Elizabeth Yarnold of Great Britain.

Hollingsworth, who won a bronze medal in Turin in 2006, went into the Vancouver Games as a gold-medal favourite but made a mistake on her final run and stunningly slipped off the podium before breaking down in front of the cameras, saying she felt like she let the country down.

While not in a good position in Sochi, Hollingsworth is not admitting defeat just yet.

"You gotta take one run at a time and decide what to do for the next run," she said. "The ice is a bit more soft than I expected. You have to switch your runners to suit the conditions."

Calgary's Reid is certainly in a better spot and said she believes there's still a chance.

"I'm in striking distance of the podium," Reid said. "I trained better than I raced. I would have liked to close the gap more on my second run. You don't go into the second day of competition on an even playing field. I have a big gap to close. You have to have four consistent runs to close the deal."

ted.wyman@sunmedia.ca

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