LILLEHAMMER, Norway -- When he was 6 years old, Alanson Owen climbed up to Curve 14 at the Utah Olympic Park luge track. Once his sled was in place, his parents gave him a push and he was off.
He has been hooked ever since.
“It was such a rush going down the track for the first time,” said Owen of his first solo run. “I remember everything about it. It was a cold, wintry day and I felt just a rush of speed and I absolutely loved it.”
The love of the sport runs in the family.
Owen’s dad, Jon, competed for Team USA at the Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games and then became a development coach for the U.S. luge team. In 1996 he was named Development Coach of the Year by the United States Olympic Committee and continues to coach in their hometown of Salt Lake City. His mom, Zianibeth, was also an elite luger, serving as an alternate for the U.S. team at the 1994 Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
Despite the family pedigree, it was important that their son find luge and that luge didn’t find their son.
“My parents were incredibly supportive and never forced the sport on me,” Owen said. “When I decided to try it, they were excited and have been giving me advice ever since.”
He continued to improve, and now, at 15, Owen is one of four luge athletes representing Team USA at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous,” said Jon on watching his son compete on Monday in doubles. “I’m usually in coach mode, but being able to just be a dad and watch was a lot of fun.”
While preparing for the Youth Games, Owen didn’t have to go far to do his homework on the track. His mom was familiar with the course, as she was an alternate at the 1994 Games on the same track.
“Since I’ve been here before, he would come up to ask me about the track,” said Zianibeth. “Turns 13 and 14 are some really tricky parts on the course so it was really cool to talk through those with him.”
Hitting speeds of nearly 70 miles per hour at the Lillehammer Olympic Sliding Center, Owen and teammate Duncan Biles had a two-run time of 1:47.124 to finish eighth in doubles.
“We had such a blast today,” said Owen of competing. “I loved every second.”