USA Luge announced it has worked with Dow Chemical to overhaul its sleds as the Sochi Olympics approach. Now, fans can have a say in what those new sleds look like at the Winter Games through an online poll.
“We’re by no means done,” USA Luge assistant coach Duncan Kennedy told The Associated Press about the new sleds. “But we’ve come a long way.”
The team endured the departure of its longtime sled-builder about three years ago, and that’s only one of the reasons those around the team point to when describing U.S. struggles on the World Cup circuit in recent seasons. And for about as long as anyone can remember, the U.S. sleds were basically being built one at a time, with no parts of one seeming to work with another.
“So far I’m liking what’s been happening and am looking forward to seeing everything come together,” 2009 world champion Erin Hamlin told the AP. “I think there is a lot of potential to see some great gains and speed, so I can’t wait to get on ice.”
Luge has been part of the Olympic program since 1964, but the U.S. has never medaled in men’s or women’s singles. American doubles teams did win silver and bronze in both 1998 and 2002. Germany dominates.
The top American luge hopes in Sochi are 2010 Olympians Chris Mazdzer (13th in the 2012-13 World Cup standings) and Julia Clukey (sixth in the World Cup), two-time Olympian Hamlin (seventh in the World Cup) and the doubles team of Matt Mortensen and Preston Griffall (10th in the World Cup).
The 2013-14 World Cup season leading into the Olympics begins in Lillehammer, Norway, in November.
Below are the videos of the four sled, suit and helmet designs up for vote. After watching, go to USALuge.org through Aug. 23 to place your vote.