No doubt buoyed by the overwhelming popularity gained by Kate Hansen during and following her Winter Olympics debut, USA Luge announced via email Monday afternoon it will bring its USA Luge Slider Search to La Cañada Flintridge.
On May 31-June 1, the slider search, which is the same program that began Hansen’s involvement with the sport, will take place on Foothill Boulevard, according to an email from Gordy Sheer, the USA Luge marketing director.
“I’m so excited to have a slider search in La Cañada,” said Hansen, who is set to attend the clinic. “It should be tons of fun and I’m hoping kids get excited about it, cause they haven’t recruited in California for years and this will be a good opportunity to show that we don’t need snow to be good at winter sports.”
The slider search will make stops in New York, Maryland and Illinois beginning in April and carrying through May before making its stop in La Cañada.
“We got great cooperation from La Cañada Flintridge,” Sheer said. “Kate’s family’s been very helpful in kind of pointing us in the right direction.”
Hansen, a La Cañada High graduate and lifetime resident of La Cañada Flintridge, began her days in luge after attending a recruiting clinic in Long Beach when she was 10. Hansen, who at 15 became the youngest-ever luge Junior World Champion, qualified for the Olympics in December of last year and made her Olympics debut in February at the Sochi Games. Shortly before that, she won the final race in the luge World Cup series in January, becoming the first American to win a World Cup race in 17 years. At the Olympics, Hansen finished 10th in the women’s singles luge.
In addition to her ability on the luge track, Hansen, 21, grabbed global acclaim due to her pre-luge warm-ups that saw her dancing to get ready. Video of her dancing went viral and she garnered an overwhelming amount of media, both mainstream and social.
With the slider search coming to her hometown, though, Hansen will have a chance to see everything come full-circle.
“It’s weird to think that I used to be that same age, but had no idea what I was getting myself into,” she said. “I think it is definitely all coming full-circle for me, not only coaching one of the clinics, but having it in my hometown, as well.”
Hansen isn’t the only La Cañada tie to luge, as city product Maryann Baribault is a former Junior National champion who was an Olympic contender in the 1990s and brother Paul Baribault is also a former national team member.
The clinics, open to kids from ages 9 to 13, will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day and, according to Sheer, begin usually with youngsters sliding down a straight line before implementing cones for a more difficult course with the onus on steering and stopping.
“The focus is really on the sliding experience,” said Sheer of the search, which is very much the starting point of finding new talent for USA Luge’s Junior National Development team. “It’s a great experience and I really encourage anybody from ages 9 to 13 to come out and give it a try.”
To sign up or for more information, see www.usaluge.org/search.
“It’s a great way to experience the sport, it’s a really fun way to spend a day,” Sheer said, “and who knows where it can take you?”For more information, see www.usaluge.org.