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Doubles luger Justin Snith on fourth Olympics, explosion of internet memes

"It seems like, kind of pun intended, doubles luge seems to be the butt of all jokes at the Olympics."
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Justin Snith. CANADIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE PHOTO

CANMORE – As Olympics No. 4 ended for Justin Snith, the doubles luger said it’s a bittersweet conclusion to what’s likely his final Games.

Snith, a 2018 silver medallist, placed seventh in doubles luge with teammate Tristan Walker of Cochrane, and sixth in team relay at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

“It’s bittersweet to walk away without an Olympic doubles medal or world championships medal, but we were close on both accounts, but it would have been nice to end the Olympic career with an exclamation point,” said Snith, 30, who’s lived in Canmore for more than a year.

“But with the battles we’ve been through the last quad or last couple years, we can be proud with how we battled and fought back.”

Snith and Walker competed at their first Games in 2010. In Sochi 2014, the duo barely missed the podium twice with fourth place finishes. Although, they eventually flew to the podium, winning silver in team relay in PyeongChang 2018 with Sam Edney and Alex Gough.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Justin Snith (@jsluge)

Spending half his life in luge, Snith said he’s ready to explore “the other side” of life, outside high performance sport, but isn’t ruling out a return.

“It’s a lot of commitment, a lot of sacrifice,” Snith said. “I’ve been away from family on the road, especially this year, we were just on the road for four-and-a-half months. It’s definitely time to take a break. Nothing is set in stone yet, I’ll say that, but there’s a good chance we’re done.”

Doubles luge is a symbiotic relationship, where the job of one person is done by two. Only one person can’t see, and one person has far more contact on the sled than the other. Snith, who’s on the bottom, steers with his shoulders and feet if he needs to. Walker, on top, steers with his feet and handles, giving head signals to Snith before turning corners. If the team goes off line, they have to know quickly whose job it is to correct.

How doubles lugers are positioned on the sled breathed life into internet meme accounts and wowed fascinated viewers watching the sport for the first time.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon also got in on the fun. The creative host, known for starring in comedic songs, made a music video spoofing doubles luge where Fallon dressed up as two unknown sledders.

Snith had a laugh at Fallon’s video and memes, but said the most recent explosion of picking fun at double luge isn’t anything new.

“The amount of stuff that has been sent to me, not just these Games, but every other Games, it seems like, kind of pun intended, doubles luge seems to be the butt of all jokes at the Olympics,” Snith said.

“We always get ripped on throughout the quad and then we become kind of the stars of the show at the Olympics, it seems like.”

In Beijing, Snith and Walker set the start record at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre track at 7.013.

They finished at a time of 1:57:91 after two runs for seventh spot in the 16-corner course.

"I'm happy to walk away with [the start record], but I’ll be honest, it's more of a consolation prize than anything," said Snith.

"We were having some issues coming out of 12th [corner] so we never really got a chance to fine tune our entrance at 13 and obviously you saw the results on that on the end. Inconsistent entries resulted in inconsistent exits."

The team bounced back in the relay though with Canadian teammates and single lugers Reid Watts and Trinity Ellis, crossing the line at a time of 3:05.235 – less than a second off a podium. Snith and Walker punched the team into third place during their leg of the race.

"I'm happy to have a bounce back run and run we can be proud of. It was solid from top to bottom," Snith said.

Snith said his luge career has been a good fight as he and Walker are Canada's best-ever doubles luge team.

The avid fly-fisher said he's looking into taking instrumentation engineering at SAIT post-racing.


Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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