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Ruben Gonzalez

the Luge Man

Three Time Olympian        Peak-Performance Expert         Motivational  Speaker

 

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MW Kellogg Magazine

Making a Dream Come True

Ruben says the luge sled is very unstable on ice. Its runners are very flexible and respond to the "tiniest little movements of shifting body weight," and "a little pressure goes a long way."

"It's a very mental sport," he adds. "You have to concentrate on carrying the correct line-the path along the track where you get the most momentum."

"All along the track, people are hanging over the side about 18 inches from your head, but you're flying by at up to 80 MPH so you don't see them. You have a kind of tunnel vision, because you're concentrating on what you're doing and it all happens so fast."

In 1985, participated in his second summer camp at Lake Placid, and, in 1986 he competed in his first World Cup, at the same location.

"It was incredible," he says. "I was finally competing and it was like being part of a big family. There are not that many lugers at international level - maybe a total of 100 men, women, and doubles partners in the world - so you always see the same people."

Ruben Gonzalez had a childhood dream of being in the Olympics. That dream came true as he whizzed down the luge track during the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. He finished 32nd. Not bad for someone who began lugeing only four years ago.

Ruben recalls watching the 1984 Winter Olympics on TV and saying to himself, "I'll be in the next ones." Doing that has taken time, money, and a determination that hasn't let anything get in the way.

Ruben researched what sports he has the best chance to make it. It was going to be either ski-jump, bobsled or luge. "I'd never skied before so ski-jump was out. Living in hot and humid Houston, I was never going to find three nuts to do the bobsled, and luge was something I could do by myself."

Living in Houston, Ruben wrote Sports Illustrated to find out "where to learn how to luge." The magazine recommended Lake Placid, and off he went to summer camp in 1984.

"When there's no ice you practice on wheels," he explains. "Down the concrete bobsled track at over 50 MPH wearing shorts, a t-shirt and tennis shoes. Nuts. Dangerous. If you crash you can really get hurt."

Along with a group of 15, Ruben recalls gradually getting used to steering and to the speed, during the couple of weeks he practiced on concrete. That winter, during school vacation, he went back to try it on ice.

"It was great!" he says. "The first on a wheeled sled, I had experienced a real high. On ice, it was even better."

When asked what the other athletes are like, Ruben responds, "They're real go-getters. They set goals and work towards them. It's great being around them."

In 1987 Ruben went to Europe for his first World Championship event. In addition to racing in singles, he teamed up with Pablo Garcia of Spain, borrowed a sled from the Puerto Ricans, and raced in the doubles.

Finally after a long pre Olympic season, Ruben qualified for the Calgary Olympics. A dream come true. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olympic Motivational Speaker

Ruben Gonzalez

Salt Lake City Olympics - 84 MPH - click here

 

 

 

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