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Local duo makes luge history

Corless, Nash receive first-ever youth 'A' women's doubles Crystal Globe
TOP OF THE WORLD Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless show off their FIL Crystal Globes at the Whistler Sliding Centre. Photo by Dan Falloon

There was a bit of a delay for Natalie Corless and Caitlin Nash to receive their FIL Crystal Globes, but once they arrived in Whistler, it was a moment to remember.

Corless and Nash didn't compete at the final youth 'A' women's luge event of the season in Oberhof, Germany, and so they weren't in attendance to claim their prizes: the overall doubles championship for both, and the singles title for Corless.

The trophies first went to Calgary and were eventually brought to Whistler by coach Matt McMurray.

"We were in the gym and our coach walked around the window and we saw them," Nash said. "We were jumping up and down."

"It's a representation of our hard work through the year," Corless added. "To be able to have a trophy like that to showcase to people and really, just for ourselves as well, it's a reminder of how hard we worked this season.

"It's also a really cool trophy," she said with a laugh.

The 2018-19 campaign was a season of firsts for the pair, as they won the first-ever youth 'A' women's doubles in Park City, Utah, last December. It's all come together quickly for the 15-year-olds, who only started sliding with one another fairly recently.

"Natalie and I have only been sliding together for about a year now. It's so cool being able to travel and, being a doubles team, being together and experiencing things together was really good because we had a really good support system," Nash said. "Even in singles, we could depend on each other and help each other out."

The team won the first three races of the season, topping both Park City events before coming home to Canada to win in Calgary. They competed together only once more, taking an eighth-place finish in Winterberg, Germany, but winning three times in the six races offered put them in a great spot. Though their point total was aided by small fields in the three North American races, Corless and Nash feel ready to take on the world when they return for 2019-20.

"Our sliding improved a lot," Nash said. "We were getting better times. We were faster. We became a lot more competitive with other girls on the circuit."

Results aside, this was a year where both sliders aimed to grow their skills and, especially, learn to quickly adapt and roll with the punches at a gauntlet of unseen tracks, especially in the second half of the season. To have the cachet of the Crystal Globes is a nice bonus, though.

"All the tracks were new for all of us, so we got to learn together," Corless said. "Winning the first women's doubles race was a really crazy experience. We were super happy being able to win it for Canada in our first year on the team.

"It was a good first impression for us."

"We're feeling good going into next year, for sure," Nash added.

As trailblazers in the sport, completing the first-ever women's doubles season, there were some challenges, the duo said. They felt accepted on the circuit, but there were some logistical issues to figure out along the way.

"In Canada, definitely they're really pushing for it. The Youth Olympic Games are next year and within our own team, we definitely have a lot of support," Nash said. "A lot of places are really pushing for women's doubles but it's hard for some places to adapt. We have to work out start heights and sleds. It's definitely very challenging, but everyone is very for it. Everyone really wants to make it a success."

Added Corless: "Everyone was very supportive, we didn't have any issues."

Nash said an injury prevented the team from competing at the St. Moritz, Switzerland stop on tour, though they had trained there for about two weeks in advance of the 2020 Youth Olympic Games at the track. As well, Corless took her first-ever singles win there to cement her Crystal Globe case on that front.

As a doubles team, Corless and Nash had at least a share of the crown sewn up when they won their third race in Calgary. On the individual front, it came right down to the wire for Corless, who needed Russia's Elizaveta Yurchenko to finish no higher than third at Oberhof. Yurchenko ultimately took fifth and Corless had the Crystal Globe by a mere six points.

"I went into every race not really knowing what would happen," Corless said. "Overall, it worked out. Not going to Oberhof, I didn't really know what the outcome would be and I held up enough points to hold onto first place."

Pemberton's Trinity Ellis was fourth in the standings, taking two wins in Utah and a second-place finish in Calgary in the three races she started. Nash took fourth, taking a best result of third in the first Park City race.

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