Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

14-Year-Old Vermonter Earns Spot On Junior National Candidate Team For Luge

a child in a helmet on a small sled
Kim Lux
14-year-old Wolfgang Lux of Swanton earned a spot on the U.S. Junior Candidate Team for luge and is hoping to make the 2024 Junior Olypmics.

Hurtling down a track made of ice at 65 miles an hour may sound appealing to some young athletes, but only a select few can handle the speed and pressure of the fastest sport on ice. And 14-year-old Wolfgang Lux, from Swanton, is one of them. Lux is hoping to make luge racing a career, and he recently received word that he made the Junior National Candidate Team. He's hoping it will lead to a spot in the 2024 Junior Olympics.  

“I was actually in the gym and my dad came in and shared the news with me and my trainer,"  Lux said.  "I didn’t believe it at first. I just got happy.”

Lux is one of just 20 youth luge competitors across the country to be invited to the USA Junior National Luge Candidate Team, out of about a thousand hopefuls. In 2019, Lux scored a big win at the North Youth Nationals luge competition in Park City, Utah.

“I went there two years ago and I won gold in one of the races,” Lux said.

Wolfgang Lux races down track on luge.
Credit Kim Lux
Wolfgang Lux of Swanton exhibits superb technique and positioning on luge.

Speed is of course a critical factor in the selection process, but Lux says it’s not the only one. Scouts are looking for more.

“They’re not just looking for speed," Lux said.  "They’re looking for technique and positioning, because you get more speed when you have better positioning and technique.”

Then there’s the issue of stopping, which isn’t so easy when you’re racing a 50-pound sled without brakes that can reach speeds upwards of 90 miles an hour.

“There are no brakes, so when we get to the end of the track, we sit up and we grab the kufins and pull them up, which leaves only the back end of the steels, which will scrape against the ice and slow it down.”

This year, Lux learned to race from Start 3, a position that gets the sled up to about 65 miles an hour, where it takes the vessel about 40 seconds to hit the end of the track. 

“There are different starts on the track. It goes from Start 5, Start 4, and Start 3. Start 3 is what I’m going from," Lux said. "It’s a lot harder than the others, but once you get it down and you remember the curves, it’s a lot more fun than the other ones."

More from VPR: St. Johnsbury 'Skyrunner' Makes History On 1st Female Team To Compete Historic Swiss Alps Trek

In another year or two, Lux says he might be able to go from Start 2 and go even faster.

A thin suit helps with aerodynamics.

“And we have to wear these booties to keep your feet pointed straight. And we also wear a face mask to keep the snow and wind out of your face, so you don't fog up," he said. "And on the gloves, you have spikes on the first three fingers. Those spikes are used to start off when you’re going down the track.”

Wolfgang Lux on luge.
Credit Kim Lux
Wolfgang Lux wears a thin suit for aerodynamics.

Luge also comes with its own vocabulary, like the "kufins" Lux’s feet rest on when he’s in a supine position. 

“It's [the kufins] also a form of steering, going down the track. It’s your main option for steering,” he said.

Lux trains year-round at the gym to work on his core strength, while building the muscles in his legs and shoulders. 

“I usually work on upper body and core," he said.  "And you have to eat healthy. They don’t want you eating stuff you’ll get addicted to, like junk food.   They want you to eat semi-healthy, to get you in shape for the Junior Olympics.”

Every winter, Lux spends a week or two on the ice track at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y.  Training also takes place at theLake Placid Start Facility, which has a paved track.

“I’d go down there and we'd do the wheel training down there," said Lux. "So it’s on wheels, going down the hill. They take the steels off the sled and they put kufins that have the wheels on it [instead].”

More from VPR: With New Ownership And A New League, The Lake Monsters Return This Weekend

Like many athletes, Lux has a routine when he steps onto the track, and a mindset to deal with pre-race anxiety.

“When I’m just about to get on the sled," he said, "I’m nervous, and I get cold, colder than I usually do.  And then I take a couple breaths and I just go down; I just let the sled go.”

Wolfgang Lux getting ready to race down the track.
Credit Kim Lux
Lux takes some deep breaths as he prepares to launch down the track on luge.

And with the news of making the Junior Candidate Team, Lux is one step closer to realizing his luge aspirations.

“My longterm dream is to make it to the Olympics and at least be in the Olympic games doing Luge.”

But for now, Lux said, "I’m just gonna hope to improve on the track and go forward.”

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet Morning Edition host Mitch Wertlieb @mwertlieb.

We've closed our comments. Read about ways to get in touch here.

Karen is Vermont Public's Director of Radio Programming, serving Vermonters by overseeing the sound of Vermont Public's radio broadcast service. Karen has a long history with public radio, beginning in the early 2000's with the launch of the weekly classical music program, Sunday Bach. Karen's undergraduate degree is in Broadcast Journalism, and she has worked for public radio in Vermont and St. Louis, MO, in areas of production, programming, traffic, operations and news. She has produced many projects for broadcast over the years, including the Vermont Public Choral Hour, with host Linda Radtke, and interviews with local newsmakers with Morning Edition host Mitch Wertlieb. In 2021 Karen worked with co-producer Betty Smith on a national collaboration with StoryCorps One Small Step, connecting Vermonters one conversation at a time.
A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
Latest Stories