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From the Photo Archive | Winter 1990


We called it the Denfeld Luge Team, though it wasn’t sponsored or governed by Denfeld High School, and it involved nothing more than sliding on $7 orange, plastic Paris-brand sleds.

It was an occasion to play dress-up, more than anything. The stupider you looked, the better team member you were.

The object of our brand of luge was to crash into your fellow lugers in the most violent manner possible. The popular method was to tailgate someone about to hit a jump. If your target wiped out after the jump, you could hit the same jump and land on top of him.

Central path was the main “luge run” in West Duluth, but it was also common to sneak onto the ski hills at Spirit Mountain late at night or head over to Lincoln Park for a mad bomb down the steep hill leading to Miller Creek.

There were a few injuries. Most were just scrapes across the face caused by the guy who wore iron miner’s gloves and loved to grab people’s heads. I think Mehling chipped his tailbone once landing a jump on the rocky bottom of Central Path, but he just kept on sliding.

Vadnais had his foot nearly torn off his leg once. It was a late-night luge run at Lincoln Park. The guys were supposed to pick me up when I got home at midnight, but they couldn’t wait, so they went for a few trial runs.

When I got home, I suited up and waited and waited and waited for my ride. When the phone finally rang, at around 1:30 a.m., I was so angry about how long I had waited that I answered by saying, “Someone better be dead.” After a short pause, Potter said: “Well, pretty close. Vadnais broke his ankle really bad.”

Fifteen years later, that ankle still bothers Vadnais, but if you ask him he’ll tell you it was worth it.


Some luge team memories:

- Though we were not sanctioned by the school, we actually had a sign-up sheet on the intramural bulletin board and were listed (along with this photo) in the yearbook.

- The hospital botched Vadnais' ankle surgery, putting in the plates and screws while it was still swollen. He later had to have them removed and replaced, and one of the plates had bent into an L-shape.

- I got to the bottom of the big hill on Spirit Mountain and could not stop. I hit a big rock, which launched me head first into the woods. I landed with my head inches from a tree. When I stood up, I noticed a playing card on the ground, and when I picked it up, it was the ace of spades (the death card).

- Many times after a luge run, we'd sleep over at Paul's house, sitting around in our long johns and drinking hot chocolate. The next morning, we'd all watch Grizzly Adams, enrapt.

i remember clearly what must have been either the varsity luge team, or a spin off. it involved many of us going to spirit mountain after hours with many, many mickey's green grenades of malt liquor. the drunken hike up the hill would almost kill you, but you'd quickly forget about it as the "luge" down would almost kill you in a different, more real, way. sometimes we wore hockey equipment to aid in the collisions (thank you road warrior), and i think there was a group canoe ride down once. we would never not get chased out of there by the late night snow makers. awesome.

The varsity luge team always sledded sober.

How cutey pootey, all the boys in their long johns with hot cocoa after some wholesome sledding and roughhousing!

It makes my childhood in Loves Park, Illinois seem positively Dickensian.

The luge Olympic sport of kings and Germans. Your mocking the glory, spectacle, dignity and graceful of this Sport is not appropriate.

Wait, is that story about the ace of spades true? That's eerie.

The ace of spades story is true, but Barrett left out my favorite part.

During the crash, both of Barrett's mittens flew off. Only one was recovered.

What made this so funny is that it was really icy out. It would've been hard for a mitten to get buried in the snow. We spent a long time looking for the mitten, because it just seemed impossible that we wouldn't find it, but we never did.

My God, it was true! In high school you really were all just a bunch of lugers.

A canoe ride down Spirit Mountain. I think that sounds like the awesome thing, ever. Count me in if you need a fattie to bring the velocity up!

Umm, I'm told I'm embarassing my wife. I, er, retract my comment.

Umm, I'm told I'm embarrassing my wife. I, er, retract my comment.

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