Skip to main content

South Valley Riverton Journal

Orson Colby wins national luge championship

May 08, 2023 12:24PM ● By Morgan Olsen

Riverton local Orson Colby won first place in the national luge championship race in March 2023. (Photo courtesy Kelly Colby)

At just 11 years old, Orson Colby needed to earn his physical fitness merit badge in order to earn his Eagle Scout award. In doing so, he discovered his natural talent and passion for the luge.

“From the moment I went down the sled I decided I wanted to do it, and I’ve been racing ever since,” Colby said.

Now 17 years old, he has competed in more than 20 races, medaled in every single one, and won a national championship in March 2023.

“This most recent race was my favorite one so far because I won, and that was a huge accomplishment,” Colby said. “What made it extra memorable for me is that it was on a track that I’m not all the way familiar with, so winning was extra cool.”

This race held extra significance as it plays a large role in deciding which athletes will be chosen to compete in the upcoming 2024 Youth Olympic Games. 

“Specifically, for this coming season, the results of this race played a big part in who’s getting chosen for the 2024 Youth Olympic Games and, compared to my other teammates, it’s not a very familiar track for me,” Colby said. “I’ve been injured on that track in the past and couldn’t continue training while recovering from injuries. The track was in Lake Placid, New York, and most kids I was competing with were from the East Coast. I’m on the West Coast so it wasn’t my home track, making my win something I’m extra proud of.”

One of Colby’s goals is to qualify for the 2024 Youth Olympic Games and, eventually, the 2030 Olympic Games. 

“I’m trying to qualify for the 2024 Youth Olympic Games right now,” he said. “My preparation for that consists of focusing on weight training to help me be at my best and, once the season comes, I’ll continue practicing on the track.”

Colby is currently on the right track to make those goals of Olympic qualification a possibility.

“I’m currently ranked No. 1 in the Youth A Men Team USA,” Colby said. “This past season is considered the pre-qualifying season for the 2024 Youth Olympics, and this coming season is considered the qualifying season. During this last season they chose three youth A men and 3 youth A women to go to PyeongChang, South Korea, and if you got to go to that, your chances to qualify for the 2024 Youth Olympic Games are really high. I went to that, so I like my chances.” 

Colby’s races have taken him all over the United States and to different countries around the world. 

“This year I got to go to Austria, Canada, and all over the United States,” he said. “In the past I’ve been able to go to Germany and South Korea, too.”

Colby has a great support system as his parents are supportive of his passion for luge and enjoy watching him race.

“I love to see the joy he gets when he races,” said Orson’s mother, Kelly Colby. “He never complains about going to his races. His attitude is always good about going to practice and it just makes him happy, which makes me happy.”

Since travel opportunities have become available to Orson in the past year, his parents have not had the privilege of attending every single race in-person, which has been challenging for them.

“This was the first season that we didn’t see every race,” Kelly said. “It was terrible. We were able to get feeds from some of the races to watch on a live stream, but we really just love being there to support him. The hardest thing is to not see him race in person every time.”

Kelly has been impressed with how quickly Orson has found his stride in the luge.

“It’s crazy and it’s fast and I can honestly say when we started I didn’t know where it would go,” Kelly said. “It’s like any sport—they don’t draw you in 100 percent at first. When he first started it was one day a week, then up to a couple days a week. Recently, he has been going five days a week. He was gone 12 weeks out of the year for competitions this past year, so that was interesting to get used to.”

In order to keep in shape during the offseason, Orson focuses on weight-lifting and keeping himself healthy. 

“It is a very physically demanding sport,” Kelly said. “He’ll get like 5G’s going against his body. It’s a balance for him.”

While the physical aspect of the sport is fairly demanding, the mental aspect of luge can be just as taxing. If a luger is not relaxed during a race, the ice can cut and slow down their time. Orson uses ‘mind runs’ to help keep himself mentally engaged and his body relaxed before a race.

“Something that really helps me stay focused is a mind run,” Orson said. “Mostly everyone in the sport does this. We do a run in our heads with our eyes clothes on the track we’re at to help keep our minds calm. We envision what we want to see on the run.”

According to Orson, luge is a mental sport more than it is a physical sport. When he keeps himself healthy mentally, he finds more success in his races.

“For me, since luge is a very mental sport, and I’m going down the track at more than 80 miles per hour, it’s all about keeping a healthy mental state and staying positive,” Orson said. “One of my coaches always told me ‘if you’re having a bad time, just remember to have fun.’ That’s what I do at my races. I just remind myself to have fun and that’s the most important part.” λ