Olympic odds, ends & trends: So just how do you become an Olympic luger (and flag bearer), anyway? | SummitDaily.com

Olympic odds, ends & trends: So just how do you become an Olympic luger (and flag bearer), anyway?

United States luger Erin Hamlin will carry the U.S. flag into Friday's opening ceremony at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Long before Central New York native Erin Hamlin was selected to bear the United States flag at the Pyeongchang Olympic opening ceremony on Friday, the U.S. luger took part in a program called "Slider Search." And it was not on ice, but on the concrete streets of New York state.

How to become an Olympic luger and more in today's Summit Daily Olympic odds, ends and trends:

Summit Stat: 900

The number of military personnel South Korean Olympic organizers brought in to provide backup and potentially take the place of sick and exposed security workers after 86 of them — a figure that is expected to rise — fell ill with norovirus a day before the opening ceremony.

So you think you can luge?

The woman who will bear the United States flag at Friday's opening ceremony, four-time Olympic luger Erin Hamlin, got her start in the sport much like many other Olympic luge stars: via USA Luge's "Slider Search" program. It was way back in 1999 when a 13-year-old Hamlin made the trip from her hometown of Remsen to Syracuse to participate in USA Luge's Slider Search clinic. Fast forward all these years later, and Hamlin often instructs youngsters brand new to luge at the national team's Slider Search sessions, which take place on wheeled-luge sleds on blacktops all across the country. Former U.S. national team luger Fred Zimny, who is currently the junior national team head coach, runs the free program for any and all interested boys and girls between the ages of 9 to 13. In 2017, the program introduced about 500 children to the sport.

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"It's a great cross-section of America," Zimny said of the program back in October. "What kid doesn't want to lay down on something and go downhill?"

A Colorado Olympics?

Even though Salt Lake City officially announced earlier this week that it is interested in the 2026 or 2030 Olympics, the city of Denver is still considering throwing its candidacy in the ring as well — and they want our local thoughts.

Denver's tourism office and the Denver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Exploratory Committee will host a pair of two-hour conversations with community leaders in Breckenridge and Dillon Valley later this month to hear an update about the Winter Games exploratory process.

The first meeting will take place at The Lodge in Breckenridge on Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 10 a.m. to noon. The group will then meet at the Summit County Community and Senior Center at 83 Nancy's Place, Frisco, on Feb. 22, from 8-10 a.m.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, with the support of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, has assembled an independent group of civic and community leaders from around the state to determine whether Denver should submit a bid for a future Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

The Exploratory Committee has said the factors it is considering include identifying ways for the games to be financed privately and determining what legacy an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games would leave for Denver and Colorado.

The Summit County community meetings are two of six advisory meetings that are being conducted in the communities that would likely be most involved in a Colorado Olympics, including Winter Park, Denver, the Vail Valley, Breckenridge, the Dillon area and the Clear Creek Corridor.

The committees also encourage all Coloradans to visit their website to participate in online conversation through online community meetings and a survey: Denver.org/explore-the-games/.

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