Park City luger to slide at Junior Nationals
Garrett Gorsch and his family have always had a love for winter sports. Originally from Illinois, the family moved to Iowa before settling in Park City, a wintertime oasis that allows them to enjoy what they love to do almost year-round.
One summer in Park City, Garrett tried luging at a camp. He immediately fell in love and decided to try it again that winter.
"I got really into that, so I did club for a year, and then I got put on the (USA Luge) team," Garrett said. "But I was missing about half of school every day for training."
His dedication to and talent for the sport ultimately inspired him and his family to explore different options for school. That search led him to Utah Connections Academy, a public online school that serves students statewide in kindergarten through 12th grade.
With greater flexibility in online school, Garrett was able to answer his need for speed. Garrett’s favorite part about luge is that he gets to hurl himself down an ice track at 80 miles per hour. What started as a hobby became a passion, and now Garrett is carrying his ambitions with him into the future, making great strides each season. Last year, Garrett won silver in the Youth B Men’s Singles at the Norton Youth National Championships in Park City, and just last month he placed fourth in Calgary at the North American Youth Race.
"The way Connections is formatted is much better for me as an athlete. It makes it so I don’t miss classes and it’s easier to keep up on homework," Garrett said, noting that his sister, a competitive skier, also made the transition to online school at Utah Connections Academy. "Connections Academy allows me to do my sports and travel, while also having the time to do school."
Luging is like a full-time job for Garrett, who is a member of the Junior National "C" Team. Between practicing every other day on the track as well as lifting every day at the gym, depending on the time of year and the different tracks, Garrett will train up to seven hours a day. The season runs from late August through mid-March and could require travel to up to six big events.
At only 14 years old and in just his fourth year in the sport, Garrett says he is only one step away from being on the World Cup circuit.
"At the end of the season we have our Nationals competition, which is all the U.S. athletes that compete against each other for spots on the (Junior National) team, so I am hoping to place in Junior Nationals so I will have a spot on the travelling team next year," he said.
Garrett says he would like to eventually compete in college — wherever he decides to go — but for now, he is focusing on his next race just right around the corner, Junior Nationals, which will be held March 5-6 in Lake Placid, New York.
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.