June 15, 2019 07:21 PM
The White Castle USA Luge Slider Search is an annual grassroots recruitment program hosted by USA Luge team members and Olympians.
They are traveling to about a dozen cities throughout the country this summer, introducing kids to a sport they might not otherwise get to try.
"There's only two tracks in the country: one in Lake Placid, New York and one in Park City, Utah," said Aidan Kelly, head of development for USA Luge. "So outside of living in those areas, it's pretty challenging to get on a luge sled or even find out what the sport is about.".
The free clinics are for boys and girls age nine to 13. They receive a crash course in luging, then zip down a makeshift course along West River Parkway in Minneapolis using actual luge sleds outfitted with rollerskate wheels.
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"This is mostly just for fun but it would be cool to see if it went somewhere," said 12 year old Seth Damsgard from Maple Grove, who spent Saturday morning luging for the first time.
Coordinators told 5 EYEWITNESS News they have recruited several kids from Minnesota in the past, including 14 year old Ashlyn Baker of Victoria, who is now on the USA Luge Junior Development Team.
"I came to the clinic in 2017 and didn't really have any expectations," said Baker, while volunteering at Saturday's clinics. "But then I was like, wow this is such a cool sport! I really love it. And a few weeks later, we got an invitation to come down to Lake Placid, New York to train for a week. My long-term goal is to be in the Olympics."
Those who show promise in this year's summer program are invited to Lake Placid, NY; Park City, UT; or Muskegon, MI, to try luge on ice at a USA Luge sanctioned training site. The top young athletes from that group will then be selected for next year's development team.
For details about USA Luge, the Slider Search program or to register for a clinic, visit: http://www.teamusa.org/usa-luge/slider-search.
Updated: June 15, 2019 07:21 PM
Created: June 15, 2019 12:19 PM
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