RAF Street Luge
This year saw another extremely successful RAF Luge selection event, held at RAF Halton between 7 – 11 September, with 26 athletes participating in the Street Luge.
The annual event is held to select potential athletes for the Natural Luge Ice Camp. The aim is to deliver this unique event in a safe and controlled environment and has proven to be an enjoyable and adrenaline fuelled experience for both instructors and students, hopefully identifying potential stars for the future.
Following record numbers of new athletes keen to take to the hills, safety was top of the agenda at the RAFs first Street Luge event of 2015, culminating in two timed runs for the race. Starting at the bottom of the course and covering the basics, including braking and steering, both skilled and new sliders ensured they could achieve the best positions when travelling just inches above solid concrete.
Blessed with sunshine and an eagerness to secure a good place in the upcoming race, those who were new to the sport quickly gained their confidence. They progressed through different segments of the downhill course, before amalgamating all the parts together for a smooth run, incorporating an array of skills including using reins for control and turning using just their feet. Soon daunting corners become smooth and easy, by using racing lines to keep the fastest speed possible.
Cpl Quinn-Downing at her first street luge event said: “From knowing very little about Natural Luge, I have come away from this week absolutely in love with the sport but disappointed it’s taken until now to discover it! The instructors were patient and keen to pass on their expertise and experiences. If you have never tried Natural Luge I can not express how highly I recommend it. Thrilling, breath taking and thoroughly enjoyable!”
Following a walk-through of the track and training on the starting ramp, the new athletes were race ready and set to achieve the best two possible times, which would determine their final score as an overall average. Thankfully the British summer held, providing perfect conditions for the final race for the Street Luge Championship, which was both eventful and extremely close over the 450 metre track averaging just over 22mph. Over two runs only 0.22 of a second separated first and second place. Flt Lt Eddy Dunlop took 1st place, SAC Sam Budd (GBR No. 1) came 2nd and SAC Gaz Kearney came 3rd.
After 22 years as the RAF Champion at Natural Luge and never before winning the Street event, Flight Lieutenant Eddy Dunlop took first place with an impressive fastest run of 44:88, over 5 seconds quicker than previous years. He was elated to win stating: “Now that I have finally won the Street event, I can retire at last!”
In 1st place for the novices and top female was LAC Georgia Wray, 2nd place SAC Jon Shepherd and in 3rd SAC Connor Payne. The 2nd female place went to SAC Lizzie Driver (Former GBR) and 3rd to SAC Milly Quinn-Downing.
With some excellent times in the novice category expectations are high for the forthcoming Ice Camp in Lusen, Italy.
Three RAF athletes have again been selected for the GBR team to compete on the World Cup circuit for 3 months They will join the Federation of International Luge, travelling around Europe. For the first time last year the sport achieved its first medal on the circuit and the highest finish ever from the GBR team. To follow their progress, or to find out more about the Natural Luge go to the British Luge ‘Naturbahn’ Facebook page.