The USA Luge team is competing in World Cup races across the globe. During a stop this week in Norway, several members held a conference call to discuss their preparations for February’s Winter Olympics.
On January 14th, the 10-member USA Luge Olympic team competed in World Cup competitions in Germany and then traveled to Lillehammer, Norway. The World Cup competitions will determine Olympic seeding.
Doubles luger Jayson Terdiman says the team has been to the Olympic track in Korea twice and found it to be a high speed course. “It’s a little bit longer and more open on the track. Not as much driving which tends to favor the style that Matt and I ride extremely well which is great.”
Teammate Matt Mortensen says he is challenged by one part of the Korean track. “In Korea there is one curve that is very problematic to a lot of double teams. Curve nine it’s just built a little strange so it’s hard to come out and you get a lot of lateral pressure when you come out. But other than that it’s great.”
Mortensen adds that while there have been a few minor injuries, the team is eager for the Olympics. “Everybody’s in a pretty good place physically and mentally. We have just two athletes which is myself and Emily Sweeney have a little bit of minor injuries from last week that we’re getting over. Everyone’s been looking forward to move forward towards the Olympic Games.”
Two of the luge singles athletes participate in a program called Classroom Champions. Erin Hamlin was first approached six years ago to help inspire children in underserved schools across the U.S. and Canada. “It’s children that need that positive influence and maybe a strong role model in their life that don’t necessarily have that. And so it’s a really cool program that basically every month we send a video based around a certain topic that the teacher then can teach lessons around. Things like goal setting, healthy living, everything that can kind of be related to students in school and real life and athletics as well and then we do a couple of live chats every year also.”
Singles racer Chris Mazdzer says program funding has grown and more athletes are participating. “I love that it’s focused on schools where the demographics you really want to place a role model in these kids lives. It’s been more interactive than I thought it would be so I’m actually meeting with these kids and being able to have an influence with them like in person and visually. So it’s a great program and it’s just a way to give back and I love doing it.”
Meanwhile single luger Tucker West is focused on the looming 2018 Winter Olympics. “The countdown’s definitely on to the Olympics. I mean every day needs to count from here on out. We’re constantly thinking about how to adjust the sleds really fine tune it and find those extra few thousandths and hundredths and tenths. Every move we make right now is fairly calculated and every move we have the Olympics in our sights .”
Winter Olympic competition begins Feb 8th .