For Olympic sports like luge, it can be difficult to recruit new athletes. There often isn't a lot of attention paid to these sports outside of the Winter Olympics every four years, and participation rates aren't usually that high given the amount of equipment needed and the relatively few tracks available. How do you fix that? Well, the Canadian luge team has an idea. They've teamed up with the Calgary Board of Education and author Lisa Bowes to launch Bowes' new book, "Lucy Tries Luge." Thanks to a partnership with Olympia Trust, 1,500 copies of the book, which focuses on a kid who overcomes fears on her new sled, will be sent to all kindergarten and grade one classes the board covers, with extra copies going to elementary school libraries. The World Cup luge team appeared with Bowes at the book launch Tuesday at Olympic Heights School. Here's video of Bowes and lugers Alex Gough and Sam Edney talking about what this means:
What's remarkable is that even when talented lugers are found, it can be difficult for them to get the support they need. The Canadian luge team is heading off to Europe later this week for the World Cup season in advance of the 2014 Winter Olympics, and they're entering four women's singles sleds, three men's singles sleds and a men's doubles sled. They'll have plenty of big names there, too; the women's team is led by Gough, a two-time Olympian who's also picked up plenty of World Cup medals, and the men are led by two-time Olympian singles slider Edney and the prolific doubles team of Tristan Walker and Justin Snith. Despite all that talent, though, the team doesn't currently have a top corporate sponsor after their previous sponsor backed out earlier this month. Even with financial struggles, they're persevering, though, and they're receiving support from some unusual sources. Earlier this month, Alberta rancher Mark Barnert donated a cow to the team to give them plenty of beef for this season:
"They straight up gave us beef," slider Alex Gough said. "We got a cow we split six ways."
"It was nearly 100 pounds of beef. My freezer is full. That'll keep me going for all the beef I eat for at least the rest of this year and probably into next spring."
While the team will be well-fed thanks to Barnert's donation, and while they received some financial support thanks to a $25,000 donation from Olympia Trust unveiled Tuesday, they're still looking for a top sponsor. More information on their For Sale quest to gain sponsorship is available on the Canadian Luge Federation's website. Meanwhile, though, they're going to be representing Canada very soon, preparing for the start of the World Cup in November. There's plenty of medal hope for Canada's lugers both there and in the Sochi Olympics, and perhaps this book will help convince some kids to become part of that team in the future.