I have never been a daredevil.
I hate heights, hate to drive fast. I would rather stick burning coals into my eyes than jump from a freaking airplane. That would be the last thing on my bucket list. Sure, I went through that brief rock climbing phase, but that was more of a face-your-fears kind of thing than a go-for-it kind of thing.
So where did my kid come from? Jude is a total daredevil. Citius, Altius, Fortius. That's him. (And that's faster, higher, stronger to any of you not versed in Latin). Not that he's foolish. He's very serious about wearing helmets and protective gear. But any opportunity to go faster than anybody else, he's in. That's why he's such a roller coaster freak. I am greatly relieved that we don't live in the mountains, or the kid would absolutely be a snow boarder. Shawn White is one of his heroes.
We were both glued to the tube during the Winter Olympics this year. And while I love the more subtle, artistic sports like figure skating and ski jumping, Jude obsesses over the speed events - luge, bobsled, skeleton. During the Olympic broadcasts, NBC kept asking us to go to NBCgo.com to check out opportunities to experience winter sports in our area., so I clicked around to see what they had. In my search for sports that Jude might like, I clicked on the "Luge" button and sure enough, the USA Luge Team was holding a "Slider Search" in four cities this year, and Los Angeles was one of them. It's a pretty fascinating program. According to the website...
"The USA Luge Slider Search is the official nationwide athlete recruitment tour of USA Luge, targeting young athletes, ages 9-13. The mission of this grass-roots program, established in 1985, is to identify, train and qualify young athletes for the USA Luge Junior Development Team. Athletes who may progress through the...development ladder...have hopes of one-day becoming members of the Senior National and Olympic Luge Teams.
Over the years, the USA Luge Slider Search has traveled over 220,000 miles and introduced the sport of luge to more than 19,000 eager young athletes. At each series stop, guided by U.S. Olympic and National Team coaches and athletes, participants are taught the basics of riding a luge sled, including positioning, steering and stopping. Once these skills are developed, athletes take several runs down a paved luge course on wheel-equipped luge sleds. Finally, athletes test their physical skills through a battery of fitness tests. Those who show promise in the summer program are invited to Lake Placid, N.Y., Park City, Utah, Marquette, Mich., or Muskegon, Mich. to try luge on ice at a USA Luge sanctioned training site. The top young athletes from this group are selected for the next year’s development team."
And best of all? It's FREE. I immediately signed the boy up.
Jude has been waiting for this for months now, and finally, the LA Slider Search was this past Saturday. The program was run by a USA Luge Junior team coach, and SoCal native Kate Hansen, the USA Luge Olympian who made a splash in Sochi not just with her 10th place finish, but also with her funky pre-race dancing. Since we are in Southern California and there isn't exactly any ice around, they did dry-land training on street luges.
After a brief form/steering/braking lesson...
...they all practiced a little on their own...
...then hauled their luges up the hill...
And guess what? The kid is a natural.
I am the big dork hooting and hollering in the background.
Seriously. I have no idea what qualities go into having luging talent, but he has them. He was fast and focused and had weirdly excellent form. He was the only kid in the clinic who didn't miss a single slalom. He was completely fearless. All the other parents kept asking me how many times he's done this, and were shocked when I told them "never".
I can't remember the last time Jude enjoyed doing something this much. He absolutely adored it. He deemed it "even better than a roller coaster". Which is the highest praise imaginable.
I have no idea what we'll do if he's actually invited to join the winter luge on ice program. I realize this is unlikely, as they only invite 75 kids from across the country. But he loved it so much, I can't imagine not giving him that opportunity. I guess I'll have to figure out a way to get him to Park City, Utah or Lake Placid, NY.
I have an extra kidney I could sell I suppose. Is this what Shawn White's mother went through?
Prompt #4: A blog post inspired by the word "dare".