Clocking in at a top speed of 75 miles per hour on a sled is not a feeling most are accustomed to. But that’s the case for East Fairfield native Hunter Harris.
The BFA-St. Albans sophomore is a part of the USA Olympic Luge Development program that serves as a feeder system for one of the oldest winter sports. Luge consists of one or two people lying on a sled face upward, feet first, racing down a five-foot-wide track that runs from 3,200 feet to 5,000 feet.
Luge was not passed down to Harris by relatives and is not offered in schools. Harris got his taste for luge at the 2013 Burlington Slider Search program, where he was one of the few who tried racing down a paved street in the Queen City.
“They basically have you go down this street and observe how you’re doing and ask about 20 kids to come back to compete on the real ice in Lake Placid,” Harris said.
Unlike more-popular winter sports such as hockey and skiing, such clinics prove to be where the U.S. luge team finds most of its prospects. Ten cities are set to host clinics in 2018 including Essex Junction.
“We kind of just showed up because we thought it would be something fun to do,” said Jennifer Harris, Hunter’s mother.
Strapped to his training sled with wheels, Harris’ performance in front of scouts in Burlington earned an invitation to start his luging career in storied Lake Placid, N.Y.
The invited prospects from all corners of the country go through several development levels aimed at producing Olympian lugers.
While also being named to the official USA Luge Junior National Team, Hunter reached the first level — the D Team — in 2016. He spent seven weeks in Lake Placid from October through March and trained at one of the United States’ finest facilities.
To read this full story, pick up a copy of Tuesday’s Messenger.