Building a local luge program for kids is slow work, but a group of 11 kids have already signed on for a program that is already working its way up the track at Whistler Sliding Centre.
According to Nicole Simon, the program coordinator, the kids have already moved up from a starting spot four turns from the bottom to the Maple Leaf start, where they have six turns.
There are 16 turns from top-to-bottom, but moving up two turns is significant on the fastest course in the world, where lugers approach the 150 km/h mark. As it is, the kids in the program are already reaching speeds of almost 90 km/h.
“The kids love it, which is great, they’re all really enthusiastic,” said Simon. “Registration has been a little slow, but we understand that a lot of local kids are already pretty busy and it’s hard to commit to yet another activity.”
But while kids have been slow to commit to the team, their recruitment camps have been selling out. The camp on Dec. 20 is full, and the camps on Jan. 18 and Feb. 28 are filling up. The cost is $30, which includes coaching and a chance to ride a luge from Turn 12. Registration is available online at www.luge.ca.
Although details are still being confirmed, Simon says that members of the team will get to compete in at least three competitions this year including two B.C. Cup events and a provincial championship, all while moving steadily up the luge track as their skills and comfort level improve. They won’t get to the point where they’re at the women’s start (“I hope not!” said Simon, who is a former racer), but they could get up as far as Turn Six.
The program is mixed, with five girls and six boys aged eight to 14 signed up. The kids are mostly from Whistler, although they can be from anywhere in the Sea to Sky corridor or the Lower Mainland.
The program includes everything from dryland training to ice time, and all equipment is provided. There is room in the program for up to 40 kids.
As well as luge, Simon is helping to launch a grass roots program for bobsleigh and skeleton. The program will accept kids 15 years and older, but is dependent on the delivery of equipment sometime this month. The first recruitment camps will be held in the New Year.