USA Luge returns to Westmont

WESTMONT, Ill. (WLS) -- Chicagoland kids can experience the thrill of Olympic Luge training this weekend as USA Luge rolls through Westmont on its annual Slider Search.

"It's like going on a roller coaster that you're in control of," said former Olympian Aidan Kelly, who's now head of development for USA Luge.

He's travelling across the country this summer to exposes kids to this lesser-known sport.

At each stop, he teaches kids aged 9 to 13 steering and posture and then sends them down the hill on converted luge sleds with wheels instead of runners for ice. During just a handful of attempts from each participant, Kelly's watching for stand-out talent.

"Body control, spatial awareness, listening," he listed.

Hundreds of kids will try out on local streets across the country this summer. But if you have what it takes to move on, you get to try out the ice luge at Lake Placid.

After a training camp there, some will be invited to join the national program. The Slider Search has produced several Olympians over the years. Kelly competed in the 2014 Sochi games; he said 6 of the 10 Americans at the 2018 games had their starts at the Slider Search too, going from a "backyard hill to the Olympics," as he pointed out.

Aspirations aside, it's flat out fun.

"On a scale of one to 10, 10," decided 9-year-old Alice O'Connor after trying it out.

"I think it's just fun rolling down the hill so fast and having all the wind against your face," added returning 13-year-old Matt Pecard.

It's a thrill for parents too.

"Did I hit any cones," asked Matt's dad Jason Pecard after testing the luge himself.

The Westmont search runs Saturday and Sunday at the intersection of Cass Avenue and Dallas Street. There are two sessions each day: one from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and the other from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Even if you're Olympic journey doesn't start this weekend, you're in for a wild ride.

Find out how to sign up for the Slider Search here.
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