Luge

Luge teen stars Nat & Cat: "We want to inspire other girls"

Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless became the first female team to race against men in a World Cup event. The Lausanne 2020 silver medallists star in our new Original Series 'Sliding Madness' launching on 9 January.

By Ken Browne ·

Nat and Cat, Cat and Nat, these bff luge teammates have already made history before their 18th birthday.

At 17 Canada's sliding duo has already won a silver medal at the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games in the first-ever women's doubles event at a YOG.

And they became the first female team to compete in an FIL World Cup doubles race in Whistler while they were still 16, racing against men.

Now they're part of a new Olympic Channel Original Series called 'Sliding Madness' which follows their emotional journey through fun, friendship and teamwork, to the Youth Olympic podium in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

The series is free to watch on Olympic Channel from 9th January 2021.

We caught up with these Youth Olympic stars in Whistler, Canada, to find out how they've been keeping the dream alive through a pandemic, why they chose luge, the their pre-race pump-up routine, not going viral on TikTok, giving up on the ukelele, their fan-club families, and the future.

Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless: The beginning

But first, why luge?

"I was drawn to luge in the beginning because I liked speed and I liked going fast," says Caitlin Nash via videocall, sitting next to Natalie at home in Whistler, the fresh snow thick outside the window.

"But I also liked that it was fun and it was something that I loved doing in the team environment, it was awesome and I got to travel and meet new people like Natalie."

"It makes you feel powerful to be going that fast and be in control of this speed tunnel and little toboggan," adds Natalie.

Nat and Kat know firsthand the power that sport has to change lives, and empowering women is an issue close to the heart.

They've been inspired by Alex Gough who became the first Canadian to win an Olympic medal in luge at PyeongChang 2018 where she won team bronze and individual silver.

And by the Canadian women's ice hockey team who are four-time Olympic and ten-time world champions.

"We want to showcase that women in sport can be powerful and accomplished and succeed," says Nash.

"And really demonstrating that it is possible, we want to be that paveway and hopefully inspire other girls and a whole new generation."

Gender equality at Lausanne 2020

"It was a big step for the Lausanne Olympic Games to be one of the first games that was completely gender equal," continues Nash.

"So the same level of female athletes as there was male athletes. I think there's that's been a big issue for women in sport, just always kind of being the second afterthought.

"I don't see any reason why women can't have equal opportunities to be involved in sport, it's such an essential part of life. And it's been proven that sport improves mental health and improves academic performance and just all these great things that come from sport.

"And I think we should be trying to get as many young female athletes involved as we can because it's such a good outlet, not even if you're going to be an elite level athlete, but just in life.

"It teaches you so many life skills and opens you up to so many opportunities that you might not get if you were never involved in sport."

Full gender equality for Winter YOG

At the IOC Executive Board meeting in Lausanne, a new sport was also approv...

Teenagers in a pandemic on TikTok, and learning the ukulele

But when they're not racing on international stages or raising their voices for equality, Cat and Nat are just teenagers doing the things teenagers do in Whistler.

"Hiking and being in the mountains and outdoors a lot, hang out with friends when we can, trying to have a social life while still training," laughs Nat.

"Although not a lot of that is possible right now."

This rising double-act is training in the Whistler High Performance Center with the seniors and during a global pandemic, are studying from home.

So how have they got through lockdowns and lack of contact with friends at school?

"We kind of went on to an online team environment, did our workouts over Zoom, you know, tried to get everything we could done at home. I was working out in my basement, in my garage. I kind of try to just make the best out of the situation," says Natalie.

"We've kind of transitioned a lot to the online world and doing things over technology," agrees Cat

"I tried to learn the ukulele at the beginning of quarantine... but I've forgotten it all already" admits Nat.

Like most of the world, they binge-watched series in lockdown, they both watched 'You', "so creepy," they say together.

"I think both of our favorite shows, I hope Caitlin agrees with me here is Brooklyn 99 (Caitlyn nods enthusiastically). Binge watched that one a lot."

"Dancing and luging don't have any correlation." - Caitlin Nash

What about TikTok?

"I don't have it anymore," laughs Cat. The attachment to TikTok got a little too real for me and I had to step back."

"We maybe attempted a couple of dances, we gave it a try but," says Nat, "we didn't go viral," continues Cat, "dancing and luging don't really have any correlation. So there's no skill transfer there."

"I posted my first TikTok last night about skiing," says Natalie, "it was pretty funny. I think I have three likes, so I'm doing really good."

Family

Family has provided a springboard of support for these luge trailblazers.

"I would say my family have been the most supportive people in my career," says Nat.

"My brother, actually, he started at the same time I did, it was his decision to join Luge. And I was like, well, I'll do it if he's doing it. And then, you know, he decided to move on. He did hockey then went to university instead, but, I was following my big brother into the sport.

"My parents come to every race, they were cheering us on at the (Youth) Olympics, definitely the craziest people in the crowd. And it's nice too because our parents are also really good friends. So it's like a double strong community of parents."

"It doesn't matter if it's hailing on them or, you know, minus twenty five, we know if they're going to be there" - Caitlin Nash

Caitlin nods along.

"Yeah, for sure, my parents have both been extremely supportive," she says.

"My mom especially, she's the one who doesn't let me quit when things get tough. And she's the one who's been really a big part of my support system as well as my dad, like Natalie said, they're at every race.

"And it doesn't matter if it's hailing on them or, you know, minus twenty five, we know they're going to be there and they're going to support us no matter what.

"At YOG and at a lot of our big races, they are the loudest people in the crowd and they want people to know that Canada is here to show up and we're going to win some medals!"

Being each other's rock and pre-race pump-up

So what's their favourite thing about each other?

Cat goes first.

"I think the most inspiring thing about Natalie is that she is extremely determined and her determination makes me want to work harder. I always want to be able to compete with Natalie. And when she succeeds, I succeed.

"She's really goofy (Nat laughs), like she likes to have fun and she's not afraid to dance or, you know, like sing a song really loud. I just love that she's, like, confident. And it's hilarious."

"I would say Caitlin has always kind of been my rock in the sport, I know if I need help with something, she is always there to support me. And also, we push each other like we've always been so close in the sport, if she starts beating me well and I want to start beating her and then it goes back and forth." - Natalie Corless on luge partner Caitlin Nash

Natalie remembers her favourite funny story: "So maybe two years ago we found these plastic natural luge sleds in a cupboard and went to the road that follows the whole track, and it wasn't ploughed.

"And we went sledding next to the track on these little plastic sleds, it was just the craziest thing ever. Like we were flying off the sleds. So much fun."

It's been a fun ride so far for this dynamic luge duo, and so in tune are CN and NC that they have their pre-race routine down to a fine art.

"We like to listen to a pair of headphones together, listen to the same music, get in our doubles vibe and we blast our songs super loud. Yeah, it's the pump up routine," says Natalie.

'Sunday Best' by Surfaces was their Lausanne YOG song, "but we've moved on from that," says Nat, "We got a little sick of it," affirms Cat.

ROXANNE by Arizona Zervas was a big song for them too, but they're always on the lookout for a banger that'll make them feel faster pre-race.

Winning a medal at the Youth Olympics

They both agree that standing on the podium to receive a silver medal was the most unforgettable moment of the Lausanne Youth Games.

"I think my favorite moment was just stepping onto the podium with Natalie and everything kind of got real then I don't think it had sunk in while we were still at the track, like the crowds and just everything.

"It was kind of just a buzz and just the excitement. But stepping on to that podium just made it so real. Just hearing them announce your name and silver medal. I was like, wow, we actually did it.

"Like, we came here to win a medal and we accomplished that. "

Nat agrees.

"Absolutely. Like. You know, it just gives you such a rush to be able to jump onto the podium being cheered on by so many people, like so many role models in the crowd too, past Olympians.

"And it makes you want to do more. It's almost like a drug like you want to keep winning, you want to keep succeeding, you want to keep paving the way."

But the experience was much more than just a medal says Cat, "it was really amazing, you know, just being around all the different countries, getting to kind of live with them, getting to socialise with everyone."

Men's Singles and Women's Doubles - Luge - Highlights | Winter Youth Olympic Games 2020

Gints Berzins (LAT) and the German Double Degenhardt/Schneider topped the p...

The future for Nat and Cat

That taste of success at a Youth Olympic Games has left them wanting more. While the Beijing 2022 Winter Games may come too soon, Milano-Cortina 2026 could be Cat and Nat's next big Olympic moment.

"I think success makes you hungry for more success," says Caitlin.

"So once you have a little taste of it, you want more and you want to keep getting bigger and getting better and accomplishing more.

"And I think having that as one of our first really international successes on the big stage just made us like hungry for more and put that fire in our bellies to want to succeed."

Natalie lays out the goals.

"I think short term goals this year were training with the senior team a bit more, so we kind of get to be with the best in Canada every single day and.

"Long term, for me... Eventually, you know, you want to make it to the Olympics, you want to make it to the end like the gold, you want to win the medal at the Olympics. It's a big goal. But if we keep going the way we are, I think we'll get there. Eventually (laughs)."