After School Luge returns to UOP |

After School Luge returns to UOP

Adam Spencer

The USA Luge After School Luge Program will return to the Utah Olympic Park at the end of October. The program, designed for children ages 8-13 (at least 52 inches tall) who have never tried the sport, will run on three Fridays — Oct. 30, Nov. 6 and Nov. 13.

Participants start at curve 12 on the UOP sliding track, the lowest starting point on the track. By the end of the program, participants will be sliding from a higher point.

The program starts at 2 p.m. each day, with some instruction taking place before sliding.

"We slide from 2:30 to 4 p.m., so they get an hour and a half on the track," Jon Owen of USA Luge said. "I try to max the program out at about 15 [kids]. That way, when you show up, you get a decent volume of runs. If you only get two or three runs, you’re not going to learn as much."

By having the participants slide for three straight Fridays, Owen said there is a lot of visible improvement.

"Unlike a one-time experiential program, by coming back, even for three days, you can see yourself learning," he said. "By the end, they’re learning new things and moving on from the basics."

By the end of the program, Owen added, many of the participants are excited to display their newfound skills.

"If the parents can, we try to get them to come out on the last day and let the kids show off a bit," he said.

For new sliders who decide they want to continue in the sport, Owen said the After School Program offers opportunities to move on to a higher level.

"It’s a prime recruiting tool for us," he said. "Probably about half of the Junior National Team has come through this program. Brittney Arndt [of Park City] started in this program here and she’s now a junior national champion. She’s trying to qualify for Youth Olympics this year. We have a whole list of kids traveling to competitions in Europe this year who started in this program. It definitely leads to things."

The program costs $100, which includes all equipment, coaching, track fees and a membership to USA Luge. Owen said the program is able to keep costs low due to several factors.

"Part of it is the generosity of the Olympic Park," he said. "There’s also no profit — the fee just covers bare-minimum costs. I keep it low because, to me, recruiting kids and getting kids involved in the sport is not a money-making venture."

Transportation to the track will be provided to students from Ecker Hill Middle School. All other students will need to find their own transportation to and from the Olympic Park. Parents are invited to stay and watch the afternoon programs.

Owen said the program is a great way for kids to try a new sport in a low-pressure environment and see if it’s something they want to continue doing at a higher level.

"This is step one, to come and give it a try," he said. "When we get kids on ice, they tend to want to stay, so it’s a good recruiting tool that way. We don’t push anybody beyond what they’re comfortable with, but they’ll get to see if it’s something they want to continue doing."

For questions, or to get a registration packet, call Jon Owen at 435-647-3800 or email .