Last night was the opening ceremonies.The Olympic caldron was lit.
Before you rush to your TV to check the listing for the Olympics, I mean last night was the opening ceremonies for the Empire State Winter Games, not those other games going on in Sochi. This weekend athletes from the North East are gathering in Lake Placid for spirited competition. This is the weekend is the big race.
Our little version of the Olympic’s are actually going to be quite exciting. In luge, we have somewhere around 66 sled competing. Bet you didn’t know there were 66 people in the US who knew how to luge! That will certainly be one of the biggest races I have ever been involved in.
My own little group is comprised of 11 masters sliders. We have a couple of the regular club members. Plus to make things just a little more exciting the reigning US Masters Luge Champion from Salt Lake City and a world class street luger are also competing. It’s going to be a tough race and one that I am not likely to podium in. In club races we split into A and B groups to promote competition. Here it is an open class, so we are all lumped together. That’s OK. I have my own personal goals. I am gunning for personal best times. The weather looks to be good so the track should be in great shape. I am confident I can do that. I just need to execute.
And yes the “real” Olympics are also on this weekend. The Men’s Singles Luge race is Saturday and Sunday. Their competition will be at 9:30 am (EST) both Saturday and Sunday. The race is 4 heats long. 2 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. Lowest total time wins. I am really excited about that event as well. For the first time I know, I mean actually know on a personal level, people who are in the Olympics. Here are the names to watch for: Chris Mazdzer. We have been working with him on the sled development project at work. (Strangely his dad is also my son’s doctor. Small world.) Tucker West. Tucker is the youngest ever male US Olympic Luger at the ripe old age of 18. He started with the ADK Luge club. I have watched him turn from a gangly teen into a strong, confident young man. He has coached me in sliding. (Between 8 and 9 am today NBC is doing a spot on Tucker on the Today show if you are near a TV.) Aiden Kelley: Another ADK Luge Club member. I know him least well of the three. But he always has a smile on his face, and I believe he has coached me up as well at the track. (If you have to cheer for a non-American slider my recommendation is Armin Zöggeler. Armin is a 6 time Olympic medalist. He just turned 40. He is my middle aged hero.)
Chris has a real chance at a medal in these games. The track is well suited to how he slides. He is confident and sliding well. If Chris wins a medal it will be the first time the US has gotten a singles medal. Tucker and Aiden are long shots for a medal. They are both very young and in some ways these games are for experience, to harden them for 2018.
So here is my suggestion. Watch the men’s race on Saturday to see their first two heats. Then have a great day Saturday (or if NBC is tape delaying luge, have a great Saturday, watch luge Saturday when they show the tape). I am racing at 8 am (EST) on Sunday. We are going to be broadcast live! You can stream us on the web using this link:
Watch us (we can be quite entertaining in a car wreck kind of way). I do not know the start order for the race. Usually the Masters sliders are the last group to go off. So you might have to be a little patient. Then find a stream and switch over to coverage of the Olympic Luge race for the medal runs.