LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – When Tucker West qualified for the 2014 United States Olympic luge team, a nation became aware of his entry into the sport, and the legend of back yard luge was born.
West, of Ridgefield, Conn., had a luge track in his back yard constructed by his father, Brett West. The idea was spawned when the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City piqued the interest of the Wests. The track soon became a reality on their property.
Young Tucker and his entire neighborhood sledded on Brett’s design, leading Tucker to pursue USA Luge in Lake Placid. The team’s marketing director, 1998 Olympic silver medalist Gordy Sheer, heard about the layout and traveled to Ridgefield to see it for himself.
Sheer, a three-time Olympian, was impressed with the track, and more so with West’s dedication to the sport he came to love initially through television and later via his own back yard. Tucker went on to compete last February in Sochi, and just last Friday, he became USA Luge’s first World Cup winner since 1997.
Now the national team wants to take the concept to the masses, and is inviting winter sports aficionados the opportunity to design the winning track. On February 25, USA Luge coaches and athletes, at their sole discretion, will select the winning design. Winners will be judged by length of the course, how well the sleds run from curve to curve, creativity and safety.
“We’re asking fans to submit videos of their home made tracks to our Facebook page,” said Sheer. “We’ll also provide updates on the number of entries, and feature submissions on our website and social media platforms (www.facebook.com/lugeUSA and www.twitter.com/USA_Luge). When we recruit in summer we bring sleds on wheels into neighborhoods around the country. Now we want to look into their back yards for the most fun and safe sledding designs.”
For insurance related information, please review the following: usaluge.org/team/BackYardRules.pdf
The top three designs will receive:
Third prize: USA Luge t-shirt, sweat shirt, poster, hat and pin
Second prize: USA Luge official team parka
First prize: A trip down the Lake Placid luge track plus a night at the Olympic Training Center for two, including Olympic venues tours, or a trip down the Park City luge track with lodging. Winners are responsible for getting to Park City or Lake Placid.
And you never know. One back yard track produced an Olympian and World Cup winner. Maybe there’s someone similar who wants to hang out in your back yard?