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Fearless Slade saves her best for YOG final

16 February 2016

LUGE: Australian luge racer Beth Slade produced a personal best performance and two clean runs at the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games.

In only her sixth competition ever, the 15-year-old rookie from Caves Beach in New South Wales showed that she can handle the pressure of a major competition and continually improving on one of the toughest tracks in the world.

Her first run of 56.488, and 106.7 km/hr was her fastest time on the track and had her placed 19th. After her second run of 57.008 she finished the competition in 20th placed and was inspired by her Youth Olympic experience.

“My first run was the best I’ve ever had here. It was really clean it was better than the second run and I just hope I can keep having clean runs like this at this track because this is the hardest track on the circuit.”

Luge Australia coach Karen Flynn, and the international federation coaches have been working with Slade to drive the sled hard into the corners and not let the sled drive her. That is what she did today that many coaches noticed and commented on.

“I steered a lot harder in to (corner) 13 which helped me down the straight away so I didn’t ping pong and lose time like I have been,” she explained.

Slade has come so far since having her first go from a low start on the Lake Placid track in America 11 months ago when she was introduced to the sport by family friend and dual Olympian Hannah Campbell-Pegg. She is now holding her own at the Youth Olympic Games against girls who have been sliding for years and have access to tracks for training.

“It’s a really big change from Lake Placid when I started sliding. I’m really proud to be here at the Youth Olympics representing Australia and I’m loving the environment of the Youth Olympic Games.

“I’ve come a long way to be here at the Youth Olympics. Karen’s really proud and even though Hannah (Campbell-Pegg) couldn’t be here I’m sure she’s proud of me too. And I’m really happy that they and the FIL coaches have helped me throughout the season.

“I can’t wait to come back next year and keep trying to make more Olympics.”

So was she nervous with the big crowd, hype of the Olympics and a track she crashed at in October?

“I don’t really get nervous, I don’t think about it too much anyway. It all worked out well in the end and it was fun!

Slade now plans to watch some more of the luge competitions and cheer on her teammates.

Andrew Reid

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