Canada luge coach Wolfgang Staudinger (CP)Strings being pulled to benefit Russia at the Olympics? That's never happened, except for that one time, that other time and all the other times.
Canada being allegedly done out of a bronze medal in the luge team relay on Thursday likely isn't as media-friendly as Skategate a dozen years ago in Salt Lake City. A brief refresher: corrupt judging briefly denied Jamie Salé and David Pelletier the pairs gold; eventually the IOC took a half-measure by awarding the Canadian pair a second gold but letting Russia keep its ill-gotten gold. Nevertheless, Canada coach Wolfgang Staudinger, noting the luge team was in, "silver at the top but the further we went down the slower we got and that’s a clear sign that the track slowed down dramatically," is saying the luge track was warmed at specific times, specifically to benefit Russia. Part of his case is a belief that Russia tanked a World Cup race in order to stay out of the group that went down the track at the end of the event.
From Kerry Gillespie:
Part of why Staudinger thinks the Russians were determined to give their team an advantage is what happened just before the Olympics.
The Russians made sure they were out of the top-five seeded group — which drew for their starts at the end — by withdrawing [Albert] Demchenko [who performed to men's singles leg of the relay] from the final World Cup race of the season.
“For me, that was already a red flag,” Staudinger said.
That dropped them in the rankings so the Russians became the last unseeded team here.
They slid seventh while the top five ranked teams, including Canada, drew for the final places.
Canada drew a particularly bad start, winding up 11th of 12 sleds.
The German team, which went down right before the Canadians, managed to set a track record.
But that doesn’t change Staudinger’s view that the track slowed down.
“The Germans are so strong they can overcome a handicap like this,” he said, noting that they won by a second, when one and a half seconds over the field is more normal for them.
“I’m not looking for an excuse, I’m just looking at facts,” he said. (Toronto Star)
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