Young Hoosiers hope to be next Olympic luge stars
While we watch the Olympic Games in Sochi, there are kids around the country who dream of someday being an Olympian for Team USA.
Four Indianapolis children are already on their way to that dream, hoping to make it come true on the luge track.
The four 12- and 13-year-olds spend most of their time together hundreds of miles east of Indianapolis in Lake Placid, practicing their sport. All are on the 19-member Team USA development team.
"Every time I tell my friends or something, they are like, 'Luge? What is that?'," said Emma Bowling.
Emma wasn't sure about what the sport was, either, but her dad recruited her and her cousin Rachel to attend a slider search at the Soapbox Derby track in Indianapolis.
"Her dad was, like, 'Guys, you wanna luge?'," Rachel said.
The session offered local students the chance to try steering a sled. You maneuver with your shoulder and foot while lying on your back. It's harder than it looks.
"Weekend clinics, real simple. But for us, this is literally how we find our new athletes," said USA Junior National Team recruiter Fred Zimney.
Eight of ten athletes on Team USA at the Vancouver Games in 2010 started in this program. It's a statistic that fuels Olympic dream.
"Wouldn't it be cool that in eight years, that my son's attending the Winter Olympics? I think that's a long road ahead and a lot of work," said Aruna Sannuti, the mother of a young luger.
"I think it could really happen," said Jayanth Tatikonda.
Jayanth says he loves traveling at 60 miles an hour. While Olympians top 90 MPH, he says you go faster as you add weight and you prepare by mastering, steering, memorizing the track, turns and focusing.
"You take out everything, you don't look at your surrounding, you just think about the ice and the sled," Jayanth said.
They wear customized suits, tailored precisely for their ever-changing bodies. The students say the suits are neither comfortable or cozy.
They try toy stay warm by doing exercises between runs.
During the nine weeks of winter training at Lake Placid, Emma says, "When we were going down the track, our coach asked us if we had any German in us, because he's, like, 'Your position is amazing.'"
"That is what the Germans have," Rachel added.
The children will watch the Sochi Games together in Lake Placid, with hopes that by 2022, they will be the ones wearing red, white and blue.