Canadian luge athletes Walker, Snith wrap careers in Whistler, B.C.

Canada's Tristan Walker and Justin Snith are shown during the Eberspacher Luge World Cup in Whistler, B.C., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press

A crowd of friendly faces greeted Canadians Tristan Walker and Justin Snith as they raced down the luge track one last time.

After a long, 17-year career, the duo slid into retirement by forerunning a World Cup men’s doubles race in Whistler, B.C., on Saturday.

“Something like that is always going to be bittersweet. We’re both moving on to things we’re pretty excited about,” Walker said after a round of hugs and high-fives with friends and family on the finish dock.

“It feels right. Definitely a little bit sad but it feels like it was time.”

This weekend marks the first time the World Cup is being held in North America since 2019.

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The pair said it was special to retire on the track where they made their Olympic debut as 17-year-olds in the 2010 Vancouver Games.

“It’s nice to come back here after a three-year hiatus, no races in North America,” Snith said. “To finally go out at home is nice.”

Walker, from Cochrane, Alta., is moving on to a career as a helicopter pilot and Calgary’s Snith is heading to school for instrumentation.

Both 31, they go out as Canada’s most successful doubles luge team.

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The four-time Olympians became the first Canadians to ever win a medal in a World Cup doubles race in 2014 when they captured bronze in Konigssee, Germany.

They finished fourth in both doubles and the team relay at the Sochi Olympics the same year, then earned silver in the team event at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang.

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Walker and Snith reunited with fellow medallists Sam Edney, now high-performance director of Luge Canada, and Alex Gough, Luge Canada’s current president, on Saturday, cracking a beer on the finish dock before posing for photos.

One highlight of their luge career has been the people they’ve spent time with along the way, especially their fellow athletes on Team Canada, Walker said.

“Hopefully, once a season, we’ll be here,” he said. “We’ll be here to drink beers with them and not slide anymore.”

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The pair waited on the finish dock Saturday to cheer on Canada’s new men’s doubles crew, Devin Wardrope and Cole Zajanski, both of Calgary.

“Looking at how close things were between us and the young boys last year, obviously they were nipping at our heels and ahead of us in a few races,” Snith said.

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“We’ve made it clear to them, if they’re struggling at all in Europe, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or send us a text. We’ve helped them as much as we could last year. We wish the team nothing but success.”

“We’re leaving (Team Canada) in good hands,” Walker added. “They’ve come a long way. We’re really proud of those boys. They’ve got a bright future ahead of them.”

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