Do-it-Yourself Olympic Winter Sports
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Luge in Lake Placid, New York
Sporting chance: Lake Placid hosted two Olympic Winter Games, 1932 and 1980. But history means diddly-squat when you're lying face up on a tiny sled that's hurtling down an icy chute at up to 90 miles an hour. All that matters is sheer exhilaration and total concentration. Membership in the Adirondack Luge Club includes coaching, equipment, and slide time at Lake Placid's Mount Van Hoevenberg track, where Olympians also train. The club launches at a lower start than the Olympians', which means a safer ride.
Training tip: Luge sleds have no steering mechanisms; be prepared to lean into turns, apply pressure sled's runners with your calves, and break with your feet.
Learning curve: Moderately steep. Learning the basics takes just one night, but USA Luge, the organization that trains the national luge team, begins recruiting its athletes around age 10.
The Adirondack Luge Club meets on Saturday nights January through March. Membership is $40 for the winter, although would-be lugers must also join USA Luge, which costs another $40, and pay track fees ($35 a night, or $200 for the season).