NY youth test out the luge

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at uticaod.com:

In August 2009, Hannah Miller tried luge for the first time.

A year later, Miller is coaching other first-timers.

The Rome teenager was one of three area athletes at the USA Luge Slider Search in Utica on Saturday who advanced from slider search program to developmental luge athletes.

Miller, Cold Brook’s Katie Shelhamer and Deansboro’s Marissa Cornelius got on a wheeled sled for the first time 363 days ago. Three months later, the girls were sliding on the iced track in Lake Placid. In the spring, Miller, Shelhamer and Cornelius found out they made the luge development team – the lowest rung on the USA Luge ladder, and the same place where Erin Hamlin got her start more than a decade ago.

Miller, Shelhamer and Cornelius celebrated their “luge-iversary” – as Cornelius called it – with cake and coaching this year’s slider search athletes in the sport’s basics.

“It feels so weird, because I was here last year and I was so intimidated by everyone coaching and now I’m coaching,” Miller said.

Twenty young athletes attended two Saturday sessions on Cornelia Street.

Two additional clinics were scheduled today, but were cancelled because of a weather forecast of day-long rain, a USA Luge official said.

“It looks like 100 percent it’s going to rain; rain in the morning and thunderstorms in the afternoon,” USA Luge team manager Fred Zimny said.

USA Luge will host another slider search in Oneida County next month. The organization’s fifth and final stop for 2010 will be in Sherrill on Sept. 25-26.

Saturday’s turnout in Utica was down from 2009, the first slider search in the area. Last year 60 youths turned out for four sessions, two on both Saturday and Sunday. Oneida County Youth Bureau director Bob Roth was at a loss to explain the decline in numbers, especially given that USA Luge waived the $15 registration fee this year.

Roth said he understood the cancellation of today’s clinics with the threat of bad weather, though two more sessions might have brought the attendance on par with last year.

“With the amount of exposure, I’d have thought we’d have more participation,” Roth said. “And with the success of those three young ladies – Hannah Miller, Katie Shelhamer and Marissa Cornelius.”

Not to mention Hamlin. A two-time Olympian and the reigning women’s World Champion, Hamlin was instrumental in bringing the slider search to the area.
She was at the top of the Cornelia Street hill for the morning clinic coaching right along with the developmental sliders and Zimny.

“Don’t panic right away if you go toward the hay bales,” Hamlin told a line of sliders, who waited for their turn. “Remember what you have to do to go the other way.”

The lessons appeared to come easily for Shannon and Daniel Knapp, of Marcy. The sister and brother showed good control on the sleds, especially when they had to navigate a slalom course.

“I try to be the track and steer the way it wanted to go,” 11-year-old Daniel said.

Hamlin returned to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid several weeks ago to prepare for the 2010-11 World Cup season. She said even after only a year, Miller, Shelhamer and Cornelius have a good enough grasp of the sport to coach. They’ve been through screening camps and training in Lake Placid including sliding on the Mt. Van Hoevenberg track.

Click here to read the entire article.


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