WHISTLER, B.C. — Familiar faces populated the podiums as the luge World Cup returned to Whistler, B.C., on Friday.
Austria's Madeline Egle took her second gold in as many weeks, finishing the two-run women's singles race in a time of one minute, 17.137 seconds.
The 24-year-old also finished first at last week's season-opening event on her home track in Igls, Austria.
Capturing back-to-back wins is "absolutely amazing," she said.
"I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the World Cup season," said Egle, who remains atop the World Cup standings heading into next week's races in Park City, Utah.
"It gives me a positive push, even though I know next weekend will be hard because I don’t know the track. I know that I just need to be positive and make the best of it.”
Reigning world champion Julia Taubitz (1:17.161) of Germany captured silver and her teammate Merele Frabel (1:17.182) came in third.
Trinity Ellis of Pemberton, B.C., was the top Canadian in the field, coming in 13th with a time of 1:17.656.
This weekend is the circuit's first North American stop in three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and for Ellis, racing in front of a cheering hometown crowd was a boon.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been back here. It’s pretty exciting," she said. "And to have family and friends here is pretty special. We don’t get that a lot.”
Fellow Canadian Carolyn Maxwell of Calgary finished 15th, while Whistler's Caitlin Nash was 16th and Natalie Corless, also of Whistler, came 18th.
The 30-sled field included athletes from 13 countries sliding in temperatures that hovered around 0 C.
With the start of a new Olympic cycle, the Canadian contingent is young and looking to build over the next four years.
“I think we’re a really good team and we meld really well together and we’re really excited to grow and learn together," said Ellis, who was part of the mixed relay team that finished sixth at the Beijing Olympics in February. She also finished 14th in women's singles.
"I think we have a good future ahead of us. … There’s lots of areas to improve, but we have a plan and we feel good about it."
Earlier Friday, Germany's Felix Loch captured gold and set a track record in men's singles action, finishing with a combined time of 1:39.619.
“Good to be back in Whistler and North America for the races this year," the 33-year-old said. "I like Whistler and today, it was a perfect day. I had two good starts and two good runs.”
Wolfgang Kindl of Austria finished 0.034 seconds behind for silver and Italy's Dominik Fischnaller (1:39.689) came in third.
There were no Canadian men among the 21 sleds from eight countries.
Kindl moved into first place in the overall World Cup standings after taking silver in both men's singles and men's sprint in Igls last week.
Friday's first run saw Kindl blast down the track in 49.833 seconds to beat the record 49.837 mark he set in November 2018. Loch edged the milestone just minutes later with a time of 49.798, hitting speeds of 144 km/h on the way down.
“Today, all of this week, the track was in unbelievable shape," said Loch, who won Olympic gold at the Whistler Sliding Centre in 2010. "It was really fast. I like it here."
Poland's Arkadiusz Trojga crashed in the second run and did not finish the race.
The competition continues Saturday with the men's and women's doubles, followed by the mixed relay.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2022.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press