Updated: May 26, 2021 10:54 PM
Created: May 25, 2021 10:29 PM
It may be spring but a number of kids hopped on sleds in Duluth over the weekend. They weren't hitting the slopes but rather sped down the street on luge sleds. The fun was all part of USA Luge's search for their next top athletes.
"The culture of the city has a very good fit for the sport," said Larry Dolan.
For the first time, the USA Luge White Castle Slider Search slid into Duluth giving young athletes an opportunity to try the fastest sport on ice.
"It was fun," said Talia Tonn of Cecil, Wisconsin. "I went down a lot actually. I just kept on going, and it was just really fun."
"Our sleds that usually run on ice, we go ahead and we take the metal runner off and replace it with a bar that we attach wheels to," said Chris Gregg, a public relations volunteer for USA Luge. "They get to go down the hill and get to give it a shot."
One of team USA's development coaches is Larry Dolan, a 1998 Luge Olympian. Using his skills he helped guide about 40 Northland participants ages 9 to 13 years old through the basics of riding a sled including positioning, steering, and stopping.
"The goal is to introduce young kids to the sport of luge and have them try it out," Dolan said. "Get a sense of what the sport feels like and, if they show potential, we invite them to Lake Placid to try it on ice in the wintertime."
It was at a Slider Search about a year and a half ago where Tonn earned her own invite to Lake Placid.
"Then from there you're invited back, or you're not, and I was invited to come back after I did the Empire State Games," explained Tonn.
Now she serves as a Team USA Junior National member and loves sharing her favorite part of the sport with eager future lugers, "the speed. Definitely that's what gives it excitement."
USA Luge said at least 70 percent of past Olympic teams have come from this program.
"Wherever the Slider Search goes I like to see the young kids. What they bring is just like this sense of wonder, because it's just sledding in its most basic form but it's like super sledding," Dolan said.
Next stop for the traveling search is Columbus, Ohio.
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