Medal win pulls luger into elite

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

No one could have imagined a young woman, who once couldn't do a single pullup, would one day make Canadian sports history.

Rewind seven years and failing an athletic standard was the only obstacle standing in Regan Lauscher's way.

Now, with countless luge races behind her and back in her adopted city, Lauscher is the first and only female Canadian sledder to stand on a World Cup podium.

"When I first got into the sport, I just wanted to get on the team," said Lauscher yesterday at a press conference kicking off the Viessmann Luge World Cup races this weekend at Canada Olympic Park.

"I was actually held back the first year because I failed my athletic testing. It's different now but, back in the day, we had to do one pullup with 11 3/4 kilos around our waist.

"I got probably within three inches of doing it but just couldn't. That was my motivation for the next year."

Lauscher, 24, had the best finish on the World Cup circuit when she captured a silver medal last weekend in Lake Placid, N.Y.

The Red Deer native is the veteran of the Canadian luge team and, before last weekend's silver streak, had finished no better than seventh on the World Cup circuit.

Never one to take defeat lightly, Lauscher took that first setback to heart and has not forgotten that feeling of rejection.

"I think I went down to the weight room every single day, even multiple times a day," she said. "I got one of those pullup bars that fits in your door frame and everytime I went under it, I would stop and do one or two."

Grabbing that coveted gold medal was actually within her grasp in Lake Placid. After sitting first in the initial run of the two-run singles race, Lauscher was a little surprised.

"I had to do a doubletake to make sure the clock wasn't malfunctioning," said Lauscher.

"I didn't know what to think and then I had to doublecheck with my coaches and my teammates because it was so foreign to me."

So Lauscher is beaming with confidence, knowing a podium finish is a step towards her ultimate goal -- an Olympic medal. With only a couple credits left to get her journalism degree from Mount Royal College, Lauscher is getting ready for another career but won't change anything until after Turin 2006. Right now, the focus is on her races Friday.

"I wouldn't say you could sleep on the way down it still demands skill and precision but it's not technically demanding like a lot of the European tracks are," said Lauscher of the COP course.

Training runs start today, while racing begins at noon Friday.


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