SUAMICO, Wisconsin (WBAY) – As US athletes compete in the Beijing Olympics, hundreds of younger Team USA athletes are training to become a future Olympian.
One of them, a freshman from Bay Port High School, is a member of Team USA Luge.
“Small Towns” traveled to Suamico, where gold medal dreams are born.
If there’s one winter sport to play, Brock Bartol is more than eager to try it. But at the top of his list?
“Lie,” says Brock with a wide grin.
That’s right, luge, and the fascination started when Brock was just 9 years old.
“I first heard about it on the news in 2016 that you could try it out on the street in the summer,” says Brock.
“And when he came home he was like, oh, this was the best day of my whole summer, so I knew he was hooked,” says Angela Bartol, Brock’s mom.
Brock participated in what is known as a slider search, in which Team USA Luge travels across the country to showcase the sport and recruit future athletes.
He was too young to be considered at the time, but in 2018 he was on the radar and was noticed by US star Chris Mazdzer.
“And by then I was really good at it and I was older so they knew I was going to be a good candidate for the team and they invited me to try it on the ice, I did it a couple of times and then they invited me to join the team,” recalls Brock.
An invitation, but Brock had to earn one of ten coveted spots on the development team.
“Of those 700, they cut it down to 80 and invited 80 kids to go to Lake Placid, so there were 80 kids, and then they cut that back down to a smaller group and then a smaller group, so he went back to a few time,” explains Angela.
Brock says he will never forget his first visit to the US Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York.
“It was kind of cool to see the city, and then when I got to try it, it was fun to feel the speed going down the hill and the corners where you really go up,” says Brock
“The first time he flew alone with the other athletes was a bit nerve-wracking as a mom,” remembers Angela.
- FOLLOW BROCK’S JOURNEY ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/BrockBartolUSALUGE
However, Brock excelled and in May 2019 he officially became a member of Team USA.
But that meant a double life between school and training trips in the winter months.
No problem for this 3.8 GPA student who has earned the admiration of his fellow students and teachers at Bay Port High School.
“A lot of people think it’s cool, and a lot of people recognize me as the boy who rides the luge,” says Brock with a smile.
Last winter, the pandemic brought Brock’s luge training to a halt, so he devised a home that targeted the areas the sport required.
“You should focus on lower back and shoulder strength early in your run, and then it’s a lot about learning technique and moving beyond it,” explains Brock.
Brock’s Olympic training resumed in December and tonight he’s back in Lake Placid living the dream of every 14-year-old.
“I’m going down a hill really fast,” says Brock with a chuckle.
He also travels with other athletes who follow their idols on the world’s biggest stage.
“It’s going to be exciting to be with the team, see how everyone is doing and cheer for Team USA,” said Brock.
“We’re very proud of him and no matter what, he’s having the experience of a lifetime,” added Angela.
However, as Brock sees it, he is only just beginning the journey towards his ultimate goal.
“Gold medal at the Olympics,” says Brock with determination in his eyes.
In just a few months, Brock will compete in his first national competition in Salt Lake City, the next stop on his golden journey.
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Jeff Alexander talks about Brock Bartol, a local high school freshman fighting for a medal in Beijing
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