February 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm

'Olympians' for a day in Muskegon

Thrills and chills on Muskegon luge track

Muskegon — At Muskegon State Park, you can rocket down the luge track and test your mettle, pretending you’re a U.S. Olympian.

The park’s winter sports complex is home to one of only four public luge tracks in the United States. The track was designed by three-time Olympian Frank Masley and runs 850 feet through six banked curves and seven straight stretches.

Public sliders start about three-fourths of the way up the hill and reach speeds of up to 30 mph. Olympic runs are 10 times longer, and competitors can reach nearly 90 mph.

Masley designed the track with the public and Olympic youth development in mind. Muskegon’s Olympic medalist, Mark Grimmette, got his start there, and four members of the club are part of the U.S. luge program.

Olympic fever has been a big boon to the sliding business. Administrators at the winter sports complex say they had a record-breaking week during the first week of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Amateur sledders can make a reservation online or by phone for Friday, Saturday and Sunday sessions, which cost $45 per person. Sliders receive instruction on technique and safety, and sleds, helmets and pads are provided. Participants need only dress appropriately for the weather, and be healthy enough to tote the sled up the steps.

— Dale Young

An slider hurtles down the luge track at Muskegon State Park. / Dale G. Young / The Detroit News
A slider gets into the groove at the top of the run before his trip down ... (Dale G. Young / The Detroit News)