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South Valley Journal

Riverton slider wins national youth luge event

Apr 15, 2019 03:28PM ● By Greg James

Orson Colby, from Riverton, reaches speeds of more than 60 mph as a member of the USA Youth Luge team. (photo courtesy of Kelly Colby) Summary: Kelly Colby found a summertime introduction to luge and enrolled her son. Two years later, he is a national champion.

By Greg James | [email protected] 

Sliding for one Riverton teen could lead to an appearance in the 2030 Olympics. Orson Colby was introduced to the sport of Luge two years ago and is on track to win his way onto the national stage.

“For me, it is fun, and at some parts it can be scary,” Orson said. “I wanted to try it out, and I thought it was fun. I have learned a lot about goal setting, and I would tell all of my friends to try it out.”

Orson is a 13-year-old Riverton resident;. He is the son of Garry and Kelly Colby. His mother  was looking for activities for him to participate in during the summertime. She found this opportunity, and he has enjoyed the experience.

USA Luge Slider Search is a program that offers an introduction to the sport. The summertime initiative is geared toward youth ages 9 through 13 years. 

“I found out about it through the Boy Scouts,” Kelly Colby said. “It was held in Research Park by the University of Utah. He really liked sliding on the wheels in the summer and was invited to the ice.”

The search includes the uses of wheel-equipped luge sleds similar to the ones used on the ice. After several skills training sessions and fitness tests, potential luge athletes are invited to ice tracks to try it out. Last summer, more than 25,000 young athletes were introduced to the sport.

“My husband and I tried it this year from the beginning of turn 12 (the Park City track has 16 turns),” Kelly said. “We hit nearly 40 mph. Orson is averaging about 60 on a longer course. It was crazy. Name any adjective, and that is what it was: terrifying, exhilarating, That is what it was.”

Orson competes in the youth division. His progression could take him onto to juniors and eventually the national team.

At the youth nationals, held in Park City March 2–3, Orson had the fastest time in his division. He finished 1.3 seconds faster than the second-place slider, Logan Barnes, from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. 

“There are only two luge tracks in the United States: Park City and Lake Placid (New York),” Kelly Colby said. “It (Park City) is exactly 45 minutes from our home, but it does cost quite a lot to help him compete. Typically, a pair of booties runs $400, and he still needs a suit, helmet and a sled. It is quite a commitment. It has been great. He uses a surplus sled right now.”

Kelly labels her son as an adrenaline junkie. He plays lacrosse, rides motorcycles, skis and enjoys action sports. He is an honor rolls student at Oquirrh Hills Middle School.

“The first time it was scary to see him at those speeds on the ice, but now I realize he is good hands,” Kelly Colby said. “There are coaches and officials everywhere to help. He has crashed and gotten banged up, but nothing serious.”

He trains three to four times a week in Park City. Along with the national races, he runs club races weekly. The clubs are divided by age groups.  

“He is hopeful the 2030 Olympics will be right here on his home track in our backyard,” Kelly Cobly said. “We have been fortunate that the Olympic Committee has placed the the Olympic Park in a trust so we can participate on the track.” 

Fellow Utahn Matt Greiner took second place at the youth nationals in his age group. He lost by 0.3 seconds over the three runs.

‘I don’t think this is for every kid,” Kelly Cobly said. “It has been good for Orson with the attention to detail. The coaches analyze the race and are fantastic.”.