Get ready to luge at Northstar |

Get ready to luge at Northstar

Tribune Staff Reports

The Verizon Luge Challenge is coming to Northstar-at-Tahoe March 31 through April 1 in Truckee.

Gordy Sheer of Lake Placid, N.Y., a three-time Olympian and 1998 Olympic silver medalist, and Brian Martin of Palo Alto, Calif., a 1998 Olympic bronze and 2000 Inaugural Winter Goodwill Games gold medalist, will joint USA Luge National Team coaches and athletes in demonstrating proper sliding technique to participants in the event.

Through its sponsorship, Verizon Communications will bring the luge experience to thousands of people – free of charge in a safe, slope-side setting at Northstar-at-Tahoe and five other mountain resorts across the country this winter. This is the first year that Northstar-at-Tahoe will host the event.

“The Verizon Luge Challenge program continues to gain popularity as an alternative winter activity,” said Pat Hennebry, director of corporate sponsorships for Verizon Communications. “This year, we’re delighted to bring this adrenaline-pumping event out West to Northstar-at-Tahoe.”

After a few morning practice runs, youths (ages 10-17) and adults will lie on their backs atop special luge sleds made for snow and take the “ultimate slide” on a track complete with banked turns and timing equipment.

There will be timed races in the afternoon with results flashed on an electronic scoreboard. “Races” will be timed against a course standard set by USA Luge National Team athletes and coaches. The event is conducted in four categories: men (ages 18 and over), women (ages 18 and over), boys (ages 10-17) and girls (ages 10-17). The five individuals who clock the fastest times in each age group will win prizes, including snow luge sleds and ski items from DMT, Fox River, LaCrosse Footwear, Marker Outwear and UVEX Sports.

The family event also features a live disc jockey, free hot chocolate and prize drawings.

Team USA made history in 1998 by winning the first U.S. Olympic medals in luge (a silver and a bronze) during the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

USA Luge continues to excel in international competition. During 2000, the team won the gold medal in the Inaugural Winter Goodwill Games doubles’ competition, the overall World Cup doubles’ bronze medal, the World Championship bronze medal, Inaugural Challenge Cup overall silver medal and gold, silver and bronze at the 2000 Junior World Championships.

For details, log on to US Luge’s official Web site, www.

With a season of backcountry training behind you, it’s almost time to put your fitness to test in the 28th annual Echo to Kirkwood Race and Tour on March 24.

This truly unique event is the ultimate backcountry race and tour, suited for hardy folk who have a love of traveling through the mountains on skis or snowshoes. This is a long, high-altitude course for skiers with good endurance who are looking for a fun and challenging day of skiing through the scenic Sierra High Country.

The Echo to Kirkwood Race and Tour is a 13-mile course across the crest of the Sierra Nevada from U.S. Highway 50 to state Route 88. The route involves gliding across meadows, climbing 1,300 vertical feet in the second mile, moving through dense woods and finishing with a fun descent to the Kirkwood Touring Center. The course is flagged and the tracks have been skied. Checkpoints and cookie (refreshment) stations staffed by the El Dorado Nordic Ski Patrol are set up at regular intervals along the trail for safety.

The EDNSP is a volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing public education about outdoor winter safety and serves as a winter search and rescue unit available to the Eldorado National Forest and local emergency service agencies. The patrol sponsors the Echo to Kirkwood Race and Tour as its annual fund-raising event.

Registration is $35 up until the day of the event and bus transport (shuttle back to the start) is $10. Applications are available at, or call the El Dorado Nordic Ski Patrol at (530) 647-1825.

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