Luge is a sport that gets very little press or air time in the US. Most people are exposed to it once every 4 years, and even then its only briefly. (NBC you better expose people to it tonight…. in prime time!)
The athletes don’t get endorsements. They don’t make a lot of money. Heck they have to bar tend at night just to pay the bills.
It’s a cold sport. Sliders were training this winter in sub zero weather. And from personal experience, I can tell you that spandex is not very warm even when the temps are close to freezing. Those crazy little booties they wear? Lucky to get a semi thick pair of socks on with them.
It’s a sport in which we compete with nations where luge is THE sport in the winter. Countries where there are leagues like we have with baseball or football or even hockey.
It’s a hard and unforgiving sport. The smallest mistakes can at best loose you a race or at worst do much much more.
Today Erin Hamlin won the bronze medal in Sochi. She became the first US singles slider, man or woman, to win an Olympic medal. It was a long road.
You don’t see the time she puts in training. Weights, starts, track. You don’t see the fact that she has to tell the USOC where she is so she can be drug tested, randomly at any time. You don’t see the time she spent in the wind tunnels perfecting her form, or working with me and my team to improve the sleds. You don’t see that.
You don’t see the sacrifices they and their families make. Those are not small.
I am lucky. I get to work with these athletes and their coaches to give them better equipment in my professional life. I get to work with the little kids who want to be in the Olympics as the president of the ADK Luge club. Those little kids who all have a new hero as of this morning. I get to slide with those athletes, and be coached by them. Yeah, I am lucky.
They are fun, hard working people to be around. They value the help and support a small community of people give them. And I value the time I get to spend with them.
Alez Erin! Well done.