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Preston Griffall extols benefits of doubles luge

Published February 11, 2014 8:04 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sochi, Russia • Salt Lake City's Preston Griffall is back at the Sochi Olympics on a "redemption tour" in doubles luge, he says, after painfully missing the Vancouver Olympics four years ago after losing a race-off.

But how does a luger wind up in doubles and not singles?

The sliders say it's just a matter of preference.

Every athlete starts out in singles, they explained, and at some point gives doubles a try.

"Some people really just get on to sled together for first time and do really well and decide that's what they want to do and progress really fast," Griffall said, "and some people, it doesn't work out."

Griffall, an Olympus High graduate, and his teammates on Team USA say doubles is significantly more difficult, because "it's two people on the sled trying to act as one."

It's more rewarding, too, they said, because there's such an element of teamwork involved. Griffall races on the bottom of his sled and does most of the driving — doubles luge is Wednesday, by the way — while partner Matt Mortensen is on top.

"And once you're on the track there is no verbal communication," Griffall said. "So everything is built off of trust. You have to trust each other and trust that you know that your teammate you're there on the sled with is going to be doing the right thing and that you're going to be working together to steer that sled down the track safely and as fast as possible."

Fellow doubles luger Christian Niccum joked that in doubles, "when you have a bad run, it's always the other guy's fault."

Niccum also had an interesting response to the question about how lugers choose doubles or singles.

Niccum mentioned he had seen an Internet video that depicted doubles luge, in which partners lay on top of one other as they slide down the track, as a gay endeavor.

"I see it, two guys in tight suits laying on top of one another," he said. "It's like, 'Oh, what are those guys doing?' But when I started the sport ... and I saw doubles, I said, 'Oh, I really want to do that. That looks like a lot of fun.' There was never a thought in my mind, like, 'Oh, that's two guys on a sled really close.' It just looked like fun. It's only when people get older they start to get kind of perverted and say other things about it."

- Michael C. Lewis