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Ruben Gonzalez

the Luge Man

Three Time Olympian        Peak-Performance Expert         Motivational  Speaker

 

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Health & Fitness Sports Magazine 

Nov. 2002

The Luge Man

You're standing just a couple of feet away from a 20-foot wall of ice. You hear an eerie sound--the rumbling of a sled against the ice that grows louder by the second. Whoosh! A colorful blur shoots across the ice and disappears down the track. Welcome to the world of Ruben Gonzalez.

"As you're shooting down the track, the speed and the fear increase dramatically. Before long, you're up to 70-80 mph and the world seems to turn into a white blur of ice," Gonzalez, an Olympic luge competitor, says. "It feels like you're riding on a bar of soap. Everything happens so fast. Sometimes you ride 20 feet high on the curved walls pulling as many as six Gs."

This is business as usual for the 40-year-old Gonzalez. Born in Argentina, Gonzalez moved with his family to New York when he was six, then moved to Houston two years later. He and Cheryl, his wife of nine years, have one daughter, Gabriela.

Gonzalez attended Dulles High School and earned degrees in biology and chemistry from Houston Baptist University. Gonzalez has always been athletic. He played NCAA division 1 soccer for three years. "We were ranked 20th in the nation," says Gonzalez. "I spent most of the time on the bench, but I was the 'Rudy' of the team. I wanted it more than anyone else."

Gonzalez' Olympic dreams started early. "Ever since the third grade that's all I ever thought about," Gonzalez says. "I read every book I could get my hands on and watched every show on the Olympics I could."

After watching the Sarajevo Olympics in 1984, Gonzalez decided it was time to make his dream a reality. "I remember seeing (figure skater) Scott Hamilton win his gold and told myself that if he could do it, I could, too," says Gonzalez. "I said, 'I'm going to be in the next Olympics.'"

Gonzalez went to the library in search of a sport. Skiing was out. The chances of finding three other nuts to do the bobsled were not in his favor, so he chose luge. After writing Sports Illustrated about training opportunities, he contacted the USA Luge headquarters in Lake Placid, NY. They agreed to teach him if he would represent Argentina in hopes of involving more countries in the sport.

Upon arrival, he was warned about the brutal program. "They told me that nine out of 10 quit and to expect to break some bones." They were right. Fourteen out of 15 in his class quit and he did break several bones along the way.

Gonzalez has competed in three Olympics, placing 32nd at the 1988 Calgary Games, 31st in 1992 at Albertville, France and 41st this year in Salt Lake City.

Training for the luge while living in Houston requires extensive travel. The season begins in October in Lake Placid, and continues with the World Cup on various tracks across the globe. In the off-season, Gonzalez lifts weights, works on flexibility and cross trains for cardio building. "I usually spend five or six days a week at The Westlake Club training in the off-season," says Gonzalez.

In addition to the physical training, Gonzalez spends almost equal time on mental preparation. "I read positive books and listen to positive tapes," he adds. "We do lots of visualization in preparation for track runs."

During the season, Gonzalez takes five or six runs a day. The speed, cold and G forces are extremely stressful, and more than six runs per day severely weakens the body.

Gonzalez has come a long way from a third-grade dream to Olympic reality. "For me, the Olympics are like being in heaven," says Gonzalez. "Everything about it is just wonderful."

Besides his training schedule, Gonzalez spends much of his time as an author and motivational speaker                        

Gonzalez' advice to other athletes is simple. "Surround yourself with people who support you, set goals and visualize everyday what it would be like to live your dream."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olympic Motivational Speaker

Ruben Gonzalez

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