5 Tips for Your First Learn to Luge Lesson
Have you ever watched the Winter Olympics and wondered: where can I try the luge? Is there a place to luge near me?
Me? I’ve found myself dreaming of the trying the luge every four years since I was eight years old. So when I learned we live just a 3-1/2 hour drive from a luge track, we raced up to Muskegon, Michigan to try it out.
*Big thanks to Visit Muskegon & Muskegon Winter Sports Complex for sponsoring our visit!
Turns out, the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex is home to one of just four luge tracks in the U.S. that are open to the public. While the other three specialize in Olympic luge, the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex offers “recreational” luging; a perfect level for beginners as well as younger Olympic hopefuls.
Our family of three, including 11-year old Mag, participated in MWSC’s Learn to Luge experience, a 2-1/2 hour session that includes instruction, gear, and unlimited runs (until the session is over).
Combining the experience of our runs, the tips from the coaches, and the countless other lugers we watched run the track,
we learned a few tips to share for your first luge lesson:
Luge Tip 1
Remember, luge is a sport, not a ride!
Sure, it looks like a roller coaster on ice, the winter version of a theme park ride. But MWSC staffer Tom Jackson reminded us as we skied past the luge run just hours before our session, “Luge is a sport, not a ride!”
Recreational luging requires not just the strength and fitness to carry a heavy sled up steep stairs, but also the mental focus of an athlete, and some pretty fine-tuned muscle movements.
Luging safely requires more than just sitting back and whooshing down a hill!
Luge Tip 2
But treat it a little bit like a ride anyway.
In the wait (read steep climb!) between my first and second luge runs, it hit me that the required body leans are actually pretty intuitive. And even well-practiced in everyday life.
Ever taken a corner too fast when driving a car? Or frequented the slides at a waterpark? Or the roller coasters at a theme park? Skateboarded? Bicycled? Skied? Then your body “knows” how and when to lean with a turn.
So listen to the luge training, think it through, but then trust your body and physics for the rest.
Luge Tip 3
Bring some strength with you. Then check it.
The sleds weighs 30+ pounds. The stairs are steep. The sled has to get up the stairs. Nothing but the luger’s muscles is gonna get that done. So, you’ll need a functional bit of strength coming into this.
But if you’re stronger than the minimum needed to carry a sled, be sure you don’t try to over-muscle this sport!
Most of the wipeouts we saw were the result of physically strong guys trying to use their strength to overpower the laws of physics. Just doesn’t work.
Physics will always win.
Luge Tip 4
It’s not as Scary as you Think it’s going to be.
Seeing the word “wipeouts” in the previous tip probably compounds the fear factor of this sport. But really, recreational luging is barely faster than competitive bicycling. Topping out around the 30mph range, it’s fast enough to be thrilling, but significantly slower than the 80+mph seen in Olympic luging.
Yes, it’s fast. But fun-fast, not scary-fast.
Luge Tip 5
Don’t wear your best winter coat.
Sure, speeds in the 20’s mph range aren’t terrifying. But they are fast enough to give a little friction burn.
While long pants and sleeves are a given (seeing as we’re talking winter sports in Michigan), and elbow friction guards are provided, the caveat would be to wear older clothes. If an arm rubs a sidewall at 20+ mph, the fabric of a coat sleeve could show some wear afterwards. None of the lugers we watched during out 2-day visit suffered any fabric damage, nor did we. But know that it’s a possibility and dress accordingly.
Bonus Luge Tip
Bonus Tip: If you’ve got a GoPro, Bring it!
We don’t do a lot with video. But we often use a GoPro anyway. Extracting single frames from video footage allows for some great shots that are often almost impossible to get with a camera or phone. Of course, if you enjoy creating video, then even more reason to bring your GoPro! But you probably already thought of that.
So there you have it, five (plus one) tips for your first learn to luge session.
What do you think? Ready? Excited? Or planning to watch from the couch?
Muskegon Winter Sports Complex’s public luge sessions are scheduled from Friday to Sunday during winter.
Each luge session includes a brief lesson from an experienced luge coach, all equipment, plenty of sliding time and a fun competition with a medals ceremony.
Location: Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, 426 Scenic Dr., N. Muskegon, MI 49445
inside Muskegon State Park
Duration: 2-1/2 hours
arrive 15 minutes before scheduled session
Cost: $49/person (2019 pricing)
Parking: on site
Michigan DNR requires vehicles parking inside the Park to have a Recreation Passport. Passport can be purchased at the MWSC lodge. Passport options range from $9 to $32.
Health Requirements: none specified, but each participant must sign a Luge Waiver and provide proof of health insurance coverage to participate.
→ Passes for the luge track must be purchased in advance of your visit! ←
Have you tried luge? Got another great winter sport we should try?
Tell us about it in the comments!