PYEONGCHANG — Canada’s Alex Gough finally won an Olympic medal in her fourth Winter Games, claiming the bronze in women’s luge by seven one-hundredths of a second.
When she crossed the finish line with her fourth and final run, Gough looked like she was headed to a second straight fourth-place finish in women’s singles. But when Germany’s Tatiana Huefner, sitting in silver position, had a slower final run, Gough jumped back into the medals.
It was the first luge medal in history for Canada at the Olympics.
Gough, who was in third place after the first two runs at the Olympic Sliding Centre on Monday night, briefly jumped up to second place after her third run on Tuesday night, before being bumped back down to third again. The two spots ahead of her and the one behind her were held by Germans as the fourth and final run began.
In every previous Olympics in which women’s luge was contested — all 14 of them — the top three racers heading into the fourth run were the three racers to make the podium.
For about a minute on Tuesday night, it looked like the Canadian was about to break that streak in the worst possible way.
Canada’s Alex Gough reacts after competing in women’s luge at the Pyeongchang Olympics on Feb. 13.
For Gough, the 30-year-old from Calgary, the road to the podium has been a particularly long and painful one. Eight years ago in Vancouver, she was considered a serious medal threat, especially since she had the ability to train at the Whistler track repeatedly and become very familiar with its twists and turns.
But much of that familiarity was lost when the track was shortened during Vancouver 2010, a decision made for safety reasons after the death of a Georgian luger in a training accident.
Gough continued to compete and was a medal contender again in Sochi, but finished in the dreaded fourth place not once but twice: in both singles and the team relay.
She said after arriving in Pyeongchang that her multiple Olympic experiences had all provided lessons, chiefly that things change at every Games.
“The last few weeks have been a reminder for me of things that happened in Vancouver, and reminding myself that all I can do is control what I can control and go out and do my thing,” she said.
Teammates Kimberley McRae finished fifth and Brooke Apshkrum was 13th.
Germans Natalie Geisenberger and Dajana Eitberger won the gold and silver medals.
More to come.