Luge team letting it slide

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

The baby steps are all part of the big picture.

That means members of the 2004-05 Canadian luge team, which was unveiled yesterday, aren't expected to bring home boatloads of hardware from this season's World Cup circuit.

Sure, medals would be nice but what really counts is the progress the team makes leading up to the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, and, most importantly, the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

"I'm not expecting big steps but I'm expecting forward steps," said national team assistant coach Robert Fegg. His team will be the youngest on the World Cup circuit.

"Our big vision is looking towards Turin and making a couple of top-10 placings there but the main point is 2010."

That's when Canadian Olympic officials want to see the Red and White top the medal standings when it's all said and done.

Right now the luge team, and the program as a whole, is geared towards putting sliding athletes -- most of whom are from Calgary -- on top of future Olympic podiums.

Yesterday at Canada Olympic Park, Calgarian Madison Dupuis emerged as the top woman in the team selection races.

She's 17 and will be just 23 when the Vancouver Games roll around.

While she's still a junior, Dupuis is already set on representing Canada in the 2006 and 2010 Olympics, following a gruelling summer of training that included 10 workouts a week.

That helped her finish first in the start competition and second in weight training in team selection.

"It's all to help qualify for the team and this last year was just gaining experience and getting used to those (international tracks)," she said.

"Now that I have the experience, I should be able to be way more competitive now.

"The goal is to just keep improving and 2006 is a goal that's pretty realistic for me."

Calgary's Jeff Christie, Canada's top singles luger, is in the same boat.

Getting set for his second year on the World Cup circuit, the 21-year-old isn't worried about podium finishes just yet.

"I'd say getting a top 12 in Salt Lake City for world championships and hopefully another top 12 at the test event in Turin," said Christie.

Should he finish as the top Canadian at the worlds, he'd pre-qualify for the 2006 Games providing he backs it up with a top-10 finish the following season.

Rounding out the Canadian squad are: The doubles teams of Grant Albrecht/Eric Pothier, Olympic veterans who train in Calgary, and Calgarians Sam Edney/Gwyn Lewis, while Olympian Regan Lausher of Red Deer and 18-year-old Calgarian Meghan Simister of Calgary round out the women's team.

Joining Christie on the men's singles side are Calgarian Ian Cockerline, 20, and Edney, 20.


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