“A good start is very important, but not enough to win.” This is one of many important lessons that five time Olympic competitor and decorated medalist Mark Grimmette is taking from his career as an athlete and applying to his new career as a coach. Grimmette competed in the fast paced sport of luge. He piloted the sled in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and won an Olympic silver medal in 2002 after winning a bronze medal in 1998. And he also won the Luge World Cup three times.
Like many highly successful athletes, Grimmette is putting his expertise to work in a new career as a coach. After the 2010 Winter Olympics, he became Director
of Sports Programs at USA Luge in Lake Placid, New York. His formula for success in both careers has common sense appeal. That is to have fun! “I just really enjoy the sport of luge and like competing on a world stage,” explains Grimmette.
The path to success in the sport of luge faces a special challenge that Grimmette mastered. The sport has not been able to develop a large following in the United States because there are only two Olympic grade tracks here. As a result, Grimmette was not able to secure an individual sponsor, although he was so distinguished as an athlete he was chosen as the Team USA Flag Bearer at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Grimmette took a course many Olympic medalists follow. That is to work part-time while continuing to train full-time and then some.
Grimmette’s efforts have required dedication. “Being an athlete consumes time. Coaching consumes even more time. It doesn’t leave time for other things during the season,” observes Grimette. Advances in technology are making this time more productive. USA Luge coaches work together with the staff at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York to prepare the team for world competition. Their facility includes an indoor start track with video observation to help fine tune team starting techniques. Continuous testing and refinement of the sleds the team uses are also helping to reach peak performance.
This hard work has paid off with more sponsorship support that is putting USA Luge on the fast track to success. Foreign firms from countries with avid luge fans have been pleased to support the U.S. team. The French enterprise St. Gobain owns Norton Adhesives in the U.S. It became the lead sponsor of USA Luge in 2009. German finance and insurance Allianz, the owner of Newport Beach based PIMCO Investment Services, was also recruited as a sponsor. Avid fans can see the results February 8 and 9, when the Luge World Cup will hold a race series at the Lake Placid Olympic Sliding Sports Center.