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Alta states

Val Thorens’ Luge Cup: Getting in touch with your inner mountain child

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The god’s were definitely not smiling on me that day. I didn’t even come close to making the last turn. Instead I went straight up the bank, flew off the lip — something everyone had assured me was impossible — and experienced luge freeriding in 15cm of new snow interspersed with nasty, rocky outcroppings. By the time I managed to stop myself, I was a long way from the track…

The walk back up the hill was embarrassing enough (especially given the standing ovation I received from the safety guys on the course). But when I got myself back into my little red sled and started moving down the hill again, my speed was so slow that I was passed by just about everyone. The final straw was watching a father-and daughter team (she must have been all of four years old) blithely go by me in full control and with big smiles on both their faces.

The finish line couldn’t come soon enough.

I really don’t know what my time was for the six-kilometre course. But as I sat in the festive finish area, eating Tartiflette (a near-legendary bacon-and-potato dish in these parts) and listening to a French band play Rolling Stones covers, I was humbled once again to discover that the fastest lugers had made the descent in just over six minutes. My own run had easily taken twice as long to complete.

Still, the sun was shining, the wine was good, and everybody seemed to be having a good time. As Jean-Pierre had tried to tell me, this was indeed a great celebration of mountain culture. Maybe next time, I might even get a few practice runs in before race day…