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U.S. junior luging team always has luge on the brain

As the finest winter athletes are competing in Sochi. There’s always younger athletes training and dreaming of one day being Olympic athletes themselves.
As the finest winter athletes are competing in Sochi. There’s always younger athletes training and dreaming of one day being Olympic athletes themselves.

There're a slew of sports, that for most fans, we only pay attention to once every four years.

This week, the sport of luging takes the main stage in Sochi at the winter Olympics.

But for a group of young Americans...luging is a daily part of their lives...and one day they too hope to represent their country in the Olympics.

Every athlete has the same story…it starts at a young age.

"There was an after school session when I was in fifth grade."
"I was invited to a training camp here in Lake Placid when I was thirteen."

"I was about ten years old, which is the youngest you can be to try it,” said Mackenzie Rice, of Park City, Utah.

For most, their sport of choice isn't luging unlike these young athletes. They're among the best in the country, and they all have the same goal.

"Olympics 2018"
"Of course, the next Olympics in 2018, but that's four years from now."

These are just a few members of the U.S. junior luging team. You don't sign up, you're chosen.
And while most of us only think about bobsled once every four years, for Mackenzie Rice, Blake Hagberg, and Caitlin Bubel it's of constant thought.

"You wake up and it's like, time to go slide. Wake up at like six in the morning and you're jet lagged. It's just all worth it when you get to the track."

And not only is the commitment level high, but so is the dedication, and concentration.

(Blake super) "It's nervous to start but once you get down the track you have to be prepared for it. When I lay down it's just my body trying to get ready to be in that position,” said Blake Hagberg of Syracuse, New York.

So much so that in order to best prepare for a run, these athletes take themselves out onto the track with a mind-run.

"Close your eyes and it's called a mind run. You'll just imagine yourself on the track. You pull full start. You pretty much imagine the perfect run. And you just use your hands to know where the steers are. That's what I do. It's peaceful for me. It helps me relax in between each run."

After hours upon hours of dedication, the pay off is less than a minute on the track, but what a payoff it is.

"When you have a perfect run you just feel great afterwards. You just know you can do it and everything feels so smooth."

Now just prior to the Olympics starting the junior team competed in Austria at the junior world championships...earning a silver medal.

Blake Hagberg's goal of the 2018 Olympics is along with his partner in doubles.

If the duo reaches the Olympics, his partner will be the youngest luge competitor in Olympic history.
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