World Cup duo likes home ice

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

Trying to compare the European luge tracks to the one at Canada Olympic Park is like trying to draw a reference between Deerfoot Trail and the Autobahn.

At least according to lugers Grant Albrecht and Eric Pothier.

"The Calgary track is the easiest one in the world by far," said Albrecht. "This is an Olympic track. A lot of the them in Europe were designed just for luge.

"The Germans make it really hard for them to train on, so they're the best."

Veteran doubles sledders Albrecht and Pothier are back at their home track in Calgary for the Viessmann Luge World Cup, the third stop on the circuit.

They'll compete tonight at COP (5 p.m.), along with the women's singles. Men's singles and the team relay event go tomorrow starting at 2:30 p.m.

Albrecht, 23, who hails from Red Deer, and Airdrie's Pothier, 25, are considered the next Canadian hopefuls for a World Cup medal.

After a fourth-place finish here two seasons ago and watching teammate Regan Lauscher collect Canada's first silver last weekend in Lake Placid, N.Y., the duo has a lot of confidence.

"We had a couple fourth- and fifth-place finishes a couple years ago. Anytime you get in the top six in doubles and you get lucky on that day, you can get on the podium because it's so close and competitive," said Albrecht.

As with so many other winter sports, the key to victory is equipment, said Pothier. At this point, he and Albrecht are tinkering with their sled in order to get more control and speed.

Many teams on the circuit, especially the powerful Germans, often are outfitted with the latest technology, so getting the Canadian ride sliding perfectly is the goal leading up to the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.

"The Germans always have new stuff and something crazy going on, so we'll see what we can do -- put it down the hill twice clean and see what happens," said Pothier.

"We're not really too worried about World Cups, we just want to find the right equipment for (Turin) so we can medal there."

Robert Fegg, a former German national team member and one of the Canadian coaches, likes the idea of the guys doing their own work on their sled.

"It's totally important," said Fegg. "In my opinion, I'm going to trust a good slider when I know what I've got under my (butt).

"Knowing why the sled is pulling to the right, why it's pulling to the left, why is it climbing? If you don't know this, you cannot improve your times."

With the unpredictable forecast, Albrecht and Pothier insist having it remain cold would benefit the Canadian teams.

"It sucks to be in the cold but it does get in the heads of the Europeans with the really hard ice and they don't like that as much," said Pothier.


Videos

Photos