MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) – So far, the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex in Muskegon has turned out one Olympian, Mark Grimmette, and has three more hopefuls possibly slated for the next Winter Games.
Luge lovers consider their sport intense, with its high speeds and g-forces.
24 Hour News 8’s Amanda Jarrett recently got a full lesson in safety, turning, breaking while luging at the Muskegon track, and even strapped a camera on a foot to show you what it is like being on a sled while going down the track.
You drop 650 feet in about 19.6 seconds, while traveling about 25 miles per hour, using you use your legs and head to steer.
It is a rush but nothing compared to what Olympians face during competitions.
“At 90 miles per hour, things are happening fast. You’re 3 inches off the ice, you’re experiencing extreme g-forces,” said Jim Rudicil, executive director of the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex.
Rudicil has been at this luge track since he was a kid. He said there is some big misconceptions about the sport he loves.
“Hey, these guys are just riding down a sheet of ice sledding, you know? That’s gotta be the easiest sport to do. It is one of the most grueling training regiments that’s out there,” he told 24 Hour News 8.
It is the only Olympic sport that is timed down to the one-thousandth of a second, forcing athletes to make split-second moves to navigate courses.
“And you’ve gone over that track a million times, to shave off that one-thousandth of a second,” said Rudicil.
That is why teams focus on aerodynamics and wind tunnel testing with the sleds.
You can try a luge track at the Muskegon complex for yourself.
There are two — a public one that runs about 25 to 30 miles per hour, and the Grimmette Peak, which has higher speeds for competitive athletes.
Children can join the youth luge program for fun. It costs $60 a season. The track provides the sled, a helmet, elbow pads and coaching tips.
Adult leagues are available during the week as well.
You don’t have to join a league to try the luge track anytime. People at least 8 years old are eligible. It costs $45 for a 2.5-hour session.