Downhill sport heads upstate this Saturday

PLATTSBURGH - The USA Luge Slider Search first came to the area last year to find promising young athletes with the potential to one day compete at the international level. On July 17, coaches with the search will return.

The slider search has been around for almost 25 years, touring the country to find athletic youngsters between the ages of 11 and 14. "It just made sense to ... start focusing in the region where the tracks are," said luge coach Fred Zimny. "We're doing a lot more in the Park City, Utah area and a lot more in the New York, Northeast area."

On July 17, there will be two luge clinics, one from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and the other from 2 to 5 p.m. Zimny said he will be looking for both physical skills as well as their skills on the luge itself.

"[The clinics] consist of an on-sled portion where they're actually riding the sleds down a hill and they take maybe six runs or so," he explained. "During that, the coaches are evaluating them and looking at how their steering control is, their position."

The sled is actually a wheeled luge that the kids will ride down a hill at Clinton Community College, where the clinic takes place.

"After that we also do a small battery of fitness tests," said Zimny. "In the end, we look at how they did on the sleds as well as what their physical skills are."

Although most of the kids who will take part in the clinic have probably never seen a luge, much less ride one, Zimny said they may still do well.

"If a kid is involved in virtually any sport that teaches them how to use their body and teaches them athletic skills, that's going to transfer very well to luge," he explained.

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