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Posted: Sep 25, 4:28p ET | Updated: Feb 17, 4:17p ET

Speaking with Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin

How does double luge work?

Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin
Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin

Mark Grimmette: On the double sled, I'm on top. Brian's underneath me. I'm seated on a seat and Brian sits right behind me. At the start, I'm holding on to the handles on either side of the track, and then I have straps that go from my hands all the way back so that Brian can hold on to those straps. So he's pulling straight through my hands on to the handles. Our start is a very synchronous movement. We have to be very in sync in order to be able to go as fast as we can down the ramp. Now after the start when we're actually lying on the sled, I'm lying back straight over Brian and I'm using my hands and my feet to drive the sled. Brian's using his shoulders. Now to go to the left, I'm pressing down with my right leg and grabbing with my left hand, and Brian is pushing with his left shoulder onto the sled. We're working as one person on the sled. There are a lot of situations on the track that we have to learn how each one of us is going to react, and talk about it before and after the run so that we can get down the track fast and safe.

Is there any one event that sticks out as one you are most proud of?

Grimmette: The Olympic medals are great. And those have had a huge impact on my career, and they really represent how well we've done. But it was the final World Cup race and during this season...We were going back and forth with a German team in the points race. You get points for each place that you get in the World Cup and whoever has the most points at the end of the season is the World Cup (overall) Champion. Well, it came down to this final race, and it came down to the final run. And they were ahead of us by four hundredths of a second after the first run. We had a great run, but we knew that the Germans had to come down yet. So when they started, every split, they were going back and forth to plus and minus the time that we had. And when the time came up, they were .000 (total) difference from our time, which means we tied the race. But since we went into the race with just a very small point lead, we won the entire season on just one thousandth of a second. And that was just an incredible race.

That's sort of the sport of luge in a nutshell, right?

Brian Martin: It's very much the sport of luge in a nutshell. It can all hinge upon that moment, that almost immeasurable amount of time. That's really what makes it fun, that makes it exciting, knowing that after close to two miles worth of racing down an icy track it can come up dead even or can go one way or the other by that small a margin, a thousandth of a second.

How much body is a thousandth of a second when you're traveling at 85 miles an hour? What's the difference?

Martin: I don't know that I've ever come up with an exact calculation on that, but it's gotta be a matter of inches if, if not less than inches.

Do you stretch for the finish line?

Grimmette: Before every race, I walk the track and I take a look at where the finish eye is, how high it is off of the ice and where specifically it is after the last curve. I also do that with the start eye, too. And for that finish eye, when we come out of that last curve, I actually slide forward on Brian to try to break that eye as soon as we possibly can.

What's your take on the Whistler track?

Martin: It's a very exciting track. Off the start handles for doubles, it's pretty mild the first couple curves. You're really working on being subtle and trying to establish a line and not drive too much because every time you drive the sled you're slowing yourself down. Then you get into a very technical section of the track where you have a couple curve combination that happen really quickly and a couple that go the same direction. You have to be very precise on how you exit and enter those curves. And then, the bottom half of the track, when you enter curve eleven, the bottom just drops out and you start picking up all kinds of speed. You feel like you go into curve eleven at a moderate speed and you come out at, like, warp nine. From there all the way to the end of the track at the end of curve sixteen, there's barely time to think. It's just drive, drive, drive, react, react, react. [You try to] get through that section as fast as possible, making those drives in very precise spots, as there's very little margin for error.

How scary is it?

Grimmette: I think Brian and I understand the track well enough so that it's not a scary situation. But that being said, it really gets your heart rate up because the bottom part of the track is fast. There's no question about it. You have to be on your game. If you're going 85 mph, maybe during the Olympics over 90 mph, you can't make any mistakes. You have to be very precise and make sure you make those drives.

Do you have the track all figured out?

Martin: We've been to Whistler twice now. We were there about a year ago in November for the first training week, our first view of the track. We got a bunch of runs then, starting from low down on the track and working our way up to the top because of how fast the bottom section of the track is. We returned in February for a test race in World Cup circuit. We went into that race not so concerned about the results that we posted but making sure that we knew every inch of that track, knowing how to prevent problems before they arise.

Compiled by NBC Olympics


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