Airdrie’s Colton Clarke recently returned from Europe after competing in his first full season in the 2017/18 Youth A Luge World Cup.
Clarke has competed in Europe previously, but said doing the full circuit was much more beneficial than his past experiences.
“I feel like I did pretty well. I feel like I didn’t quite reach my fullest potential, but I did pretty good,” Clarke said. “I gave it my all. I did choke on some of the races – that I wish I could go back and fix – but I feel I did my best to represent Canada.”
For approximately two months, Clarke was in Europe training with and competing against 60 of the best athletes in his age group – hitting stops in Germany and Austria en route to an impressive sixth-place finish in the overall standings.
“Sixth overall is really amazing. Of course, I would have liked to be in the top three, but I’m still really happy with my finish,” Clarke said.
Clarke was the lone Canadian competing at the Youth A level, but represented his country well with top 10 finishes in five of the six events. He finished the circuit with a bronze medal in Winterberg, Germany, missing out on a silver by just one-one thousandth of a second.
Although Clarke said he didn’t think he slid to the best of his ability, he was very pleased to end the 2017-18 season on such a high.
“That was a great way to end the World Cup circuit,” Clarke said. “After getting third place, I feel like I can do this and be competitive at the junior (ranks).”
A major skill Clarke said he acquired during the World Cup was being able to act in the moment and not dwell on past results.
Clarke utilized this skill to its full effectiveness after posting his worst result in the World Cup in the second to last event in Igls, Austria, where he finished 20th.
“After I got the 20th place finish, I felt like I needed to redeem myself,” Clarke said. “I focused on relaxing and learning the new track and I did pretty well.”
During the fourth event, he said he faltered in the first heat but earned a fourth-fastest time in the second heat to finish ninth in the fourth race.
“I wish I would have gotten fourth for those two races, or at least top six,” Clarke said.
He added he still needs to work on consistency to string together fast times in consecutive heats. If he does that, he said he will likely see higher placements in events.
Clarke has additional races in Canada remaining to close out this season, and hopes to continue to improve.
After a successful first complete World Cup, Clarke said he is looking forward to returning to Europe next season to compete as a junior-level athlete.