Recently, I had the unique opportunity to shoot a training session with Olympic luge hopeful star Raychel Germaine and her trainer, Wesley Goggins. This was shortly before she left for team training in Lake Placid, NY.
In case you don't know about Raychel, by all accounts she is a typical 17 year old all-American high school girl who lives in Roswell, Ga. In such a southern city it is extremely unusual to find an athlete training for the Winter Olympics.
However, unlike her counterparts that spend their after school time playing soccer or heading to the mall, Raychel spends her time training for the luge. While her friends are planning for the prom or spring break, Raychel is working out. She travels every month more than 900 miles to Lake Placid, New York, for a week of training at the Olympic Training Center’s sliding track.
No other athlete at the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games lives in such a southern US state, where the climate is warm and it rarely snows, and never enough to have a luge run.
She attends school online during the winter months and she tries to finish her schoolwork before traveling to international competitions.
It was at a recruitment camp in Lake Placid that Raychel first went down a luge track at the age of 13, a much later start than most competitive Lugers.
Raychel grew up watching Luge at the Olympic Winter Games on television and visiting tracks with her father.
"We had little mini luge sleds when we were younger to go down the snow with," she said.
"Other than that, I’ve only been sliding for three years."
Her father competed internationally in doubles Luge and only an injury to his doubles partner during a qualifying slide prevented him from the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympic Games.
Feb. 4, 2013
The Luge Junior World Cup #4 from Oberhof, Germany is in the books. Raychel had 10 training runs on this demanding track and then raced against a field of 24 athletes on Saturday. Raychel posted her two fastest runs on the track and ended up in 16th place. She was once again very consistent as her two runs were about 0.2 seconds apart. This was a huge race as it was stacked with German, Austrian, and Eastern European sliders who have a lot of experience on the track. Below I’ve provided a youtube video of the Oberhof track. As you can see, the track has many very fast transitions and does not allow for any driver error. Raychel’s 16th place finish kept her in 16th place overall in the Junior World Cup standings.
On Sunday, Raychel and her team headed off to Igls, Austria to prepare for the Luge Junior World Cup #5. Official training starts Tuesday, Feb 6, 2012 and the race is on Saturday. Please continue to pray for her safety!
You can find out more about Raychel on her website http://raychelgermaine.com
Follow Team USA Luge at http://www.usaluge.org/