Looking for new lugers

LAKE GEORGE Friday the 13 was a lucky day for many visitors to the Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom.

The U.S. National Luge Team was on hand at the Blue Lagoon waterslide, meeting and greeting patrons and holding a timed event at the slide.

Jon Lundin, media and public relations manager for the U.S. Luge Association, said the event was arranged to showcase the sport.

We usually hold events in the winter as a recruiting tool, Lundin said. We came up with the idea of a waterslide to show people what it would be like to learn the luge.

Olympic Luge silver medalist Mark Grimmette was on hand, with his medal from the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Its hard to describe what its like, Grimmette said of riding the small sleds down a steep, winding and icy track. Its incredible, we go about 80 to 90 mph and feel four to five G forces on the way down. Sometimes the ice is so smooth its actually very quiet and peaceful.

Grimmette said on a good run, riding the luge is actually very calming.

Other Olympians were at the top of the water slide, helping competitors and offering advice.

We tell them to keep their weight in the middle, stay low and dont flip over, Grimmette said. Competitors didnt reach nearly the speeds of lugers, but Lundin said the sensation is similar.

Luge is the fastest sport on ice, he said. This type of event is our number one recruiting tool, and this is a way of showcasing our obscure sport. He said they were looking especially for kids age 11 through 14 who may become interested in training for future luge competitions.

I might want to try it, said Christopher Dorn, age 10, of Queensbury at the bottom of the water slide.

The sport of luge is actually one of the oldest of winter sports. The Vikings used sleds with two runners as early as 800 B.C. The first American Olympic Luge Team in 1964 was made up of mostly American soldiers who had been stationed in Europe. American sliders remained in relative obscurity until 1980 when the Olympics came to Lake Placid and the nations first refrigerated luge run was built for that event.

An awards ceremony was held at 4 p.m. for the winners in four categories.

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