Arrowhead Ranch on Camano Island hosting USA Luge’s Slider Search

A hill on Camano Island could be where a future winter Olympic athlete gets his or her start.

US National Luge Team coaches are encouraging children ages 9-13 to give the sport a try on May 18-19 at Arrowhead Ranch.

“It’s been too long since we’ve recruited in this part of the country, and now with White Castle’s partnership, we’re able to do it,” said Gordy Sheer, USA Luge director of marketing and sponsorships and a 1998 Olympic silver medalist. “Randy and Marla Heagle, the owners of Arrowhead Ranch, have been very gracious to accommodate us and we want to give these kids a great experience. In that process, we’re very hopeful that we’ll find some future team members.”

Incorporating sleds on wheels, the luge team’s Slider Search program is an off-season recruitment effort traveling the nation each summer and fall looking for future Olympic athletes in the sport. The public is encouraged to attend the event, which will give boys and girls an opportunity to learn luge — and even qualify to join the USA Luge Junior National Development team.

Children selected at Camano Island will be invited to learn the sport on ice next winter in Park City, Utah, the 2002 Olympic luge site. USA Luge is headquartered in the two-time Olympic village of Lake Placid, N.Y.

Two clinics will be offered each day — from 9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. — and participants need only attend one. All clinics are free and each participant will receive a T-shirt.

USA Luge often selects for its program soap box derby sites like Arrowhead Ranch, which will host its annual derby June 15.

More than 250,000 youngsters have been introduced to luge in this program since its inception over 30 years ago. Christian Niccum of Woodinville was discovered in this manner. Niccum became a four-time junior world champion and went on to compete in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Winter Games.

An Olympic sport since 1964, luge consists of athletes sliding down a track of ice on sleds at speeds approaching 90 mph. The Slider Search clinics will have kids luging at much slower, more introductory speeds on wheeled luge sleds.

For more information, visit teamusa.org/usa-luge/white-castle-slider-search. Register online online or by calling 1-800-USA-LUGE.

STANWOOD CAMANO NEWS | Evan Caldwell