USA Luge Slider Search Rolls into Yakima, Wash., on Sept. 8-9, Looking for Sliders of Tomorrow - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

USA Luge Slider Search Rolls into Yakima, Wash., on Sept. 8-9, Looking for Sliders of Tomorrow

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YAKIMA, Wash. -- How do members of the U.S. national luge team customarily get their start in the Fastest Sport on Ice®*? In the summer, of course, and through the Verizon-USA Luge Slider Search, which targets boys and girls, aged 11 to 14. Young athletes who want to experience the thrill of luge and train under the guidance of USA Luge national team coaches and athletes can do so on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 8-9, when the Verizon-USA Luge Slider Search rolls into Yakima.  The event will be held on 96th Ave., between Zier Rd. and Wide Hollow Blvd., from 9 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

During a Verizon-USA Luge Slider Search clinic, USA Luge coaches and athletes teach youngsters the basics of riding a luge sled, including position, steering and stopping.  Armed with the basics, the young athletes make several runs on a wheel-equipped luge sled.  Finally, the youngsters measure their physical skills through a battery of fitness tests. 

Those who show the most promise at the clinics are invited to train in Lake Placid, N.Y.; or Park City, Utah.  They also will be considered for the 2008-09 USA Luge development team.

Currently, most of USA Luge's national team are graduates of the Slider Search, including Brian Martin of Palo Alto, Calif., a 1998 Olympic bronze and 2002 Olympic silver medalist; and Tony Benshoof of White Bear Lake, Minn., who competed in both the 2002 and 2006 winter games and who is also USA Luge's most decorated singles slider. The Search also produced eight members of USA Luge's 2006 Olympic team, including the entire three-member women's squad: Erin Hamlin of Remsen, N.Y.; Samantha Retrosi of Saranac Lake, N.Y.; and Courtney Zablocki of Highlands Ranch, Colo.  

"The Slider Search plays a key role in identifying and introducing new athletes to the exciting sport of luge," said Fred Zimny, USA Luge's manager of recruitment and development.  "While the program is designed to find athletes, it's also meant to be fun for the youth.  Over the years, more than 16,000 young athletes have been seen through this program."

The cost is $15 per youngster and includes a Verizon USA-Luge T-shirt.  For complete information and to register for the Verizon-USA Luge Slider Search, visit www.usaluge.org or call 1-800-USA Luge. Registrants should arrive 15 minutes prior to the start of each clinic.

                USA Luge uses the Verizon-USA Luge Slider Search, now in its 22nd season, as its primary means of recruitment during the warmer seasons for a program whose athletes have captured almost 500 international medals since 1994.  Included in that total are silver and bronze medals during the 1998 and 2002 Olympic Winter Games, 25 World Cup victories, four overall World Cup doubles crowns, 16 Junior World Championship titles and 11 Senior World Championship medals.

For more information on USA Luge, the Fastest Sport on Ice®, log on to www.usaluge.org or www.verizon.com/luge.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 59 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which operates one of the most expansive wholly owned global IP networks, and Verizon Telecom, which is deploying the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network to deliver the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services to customers.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of approximately 242,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.

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