2002 Verizon Luge Challenge Brings Winter Olympic Excitement to U.S. Ski Resorts

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- This winter, Americans can don helmets and racing bibs, and experience the thrill and excitement of luge, just like the athletes who will compete in the upcoming Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Between January and March, three-time Olympian and 1998 Olympic silver medallist, Gordy Sheer, and USA Luge athletes and coaches, will travel from coast-to-coast to bring the Verizon Luge Challenge to five mountain ski resorts.

Through its sponsorship of USA Luge, Verizon brings the luge experience to thousands of winter sports fans -- free of charge -- in a fun and safe slope-side setting.

The 2002 Verizon Luge Challenge program schedule is as follows:

  • Jan. 12-13 -- Mountain Creek (Vernon, N.J.)
  • Jan. 26-27 -- Smugglers' Notch Resort (Smugglers' Notch, Vt.)
  • Feb. 2-3 -- Ski Windham (Windham, N.Y.)
  • March 2-3 -- Waterville Valley Ski Resort (Waterville Valley, N.H.)
  • March 16-17 -- Big Bear Mountain Resort (Big Bear Lake, Calif.)

After demonstrations of the proper sliding technique by USA Luge athletes and coaches on a Laserluge® sled made for snow, kids (ages 10-17) and adults will take a few practice runs. Then they will be able to slide down a simulated luge track, complete with banked turns and electronic timing equipment. In the afternoon, participants will compete in timed races with results announced at a trackside awards ceremony immediately following the race.

The Verizon Luge Challenge race is conducted in four categories: men (ages 18 and over), women (ages 18 and over), boys (ages 10-17) and girls (ages 10-17). The five individuals who clock the fastest times in each age group will win great prizes including Laserluge® sleds and ski items from UVEX Sports, Duofold, LaCrosse Footwear, Fox River, and DMT.

This free family event also features a live DJ, prize drawings and complimentary refreshments.

"With USA Luge poised to excel in February's Winter Games, more people than ever are excited about the sport of luge," said Pat Hennebry, Verizon, director of Sponsorships. "We intend to encourage that enthusiasm by giving people a chance to experience one of the world's fastest sports."

As the founding sponsor of USA Luge, Verizon has helped the U.S. National Luge Team rise to become a world-class competitor, winning more than 250 international medals since 1990 in World Championship, World Cup, and Olympic competition. USA Luge made history in 1998 by winning its first Olympic medals, a silver and a bronze, during the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

USA Luge continues to excel in international competition. During 2001, the team won a bronze medal in the team competition of the 35th World Luge Championships, in Calgary, Canada, marking the first time ever USA Luge captured a medal in the team event of the World Championships. At the 16th Junior World Championships, in Lillehammer, Norway, USA Luge raced to a record six medals, including a sweep of the women's singles competition. And the doubles team of Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin, the 1998 Olympic bronze medallists, raced to their sixth career World Cup victory, in Nagano.

For more information, log on to USA Luge's official Web site, www.usaluge.org.

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 128.5 million access line equivalents and 28.7 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with 256,000 employees and approximately $65 billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.