With the 2018 Winter Olympics right around the corner, a Muskegon business is prepared for a boon in business.
Already off to a great start to the 2017-18 winter season, the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex expects to see greater interest in the activities it offers, including luge, as the Winter Olympics get underway Feb. 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, according to Jim Rudicil, executive director of the complex.
“We are having a stellar start to the season and all of our venues are online and were for Christmas break,” Rudicil said. “It had been four years since we last had that luxury. It’s a season within a season.”
The Muskegon Winter Sports Complex offers ice-skating, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. It’s also one of four luge tracks in the United States, and the only track regularly open to the public.
That unique aspect helps bring in customers from all over the Midwest as they become intrigued by the fast-paced sport.
Olympic lugers — a one-man sled speeding through a downhill track — can reach speeds of up to 80 miles per hour, Rudicil said. On the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex track, the sleds only manage 40 miles per hour, making it a perfect start for a beginning of the sport.
“Our luge track is designed strictly for public use and to introduce the sport to the general public and develop youth athletes,” he said. “Our track is much shorter than an Olympic track.”
While Olympic tracks are a mile long, the Winter Sports Complex’s 650-foot track can reach speeds of 25 miles per hour, which feels like 80 to a new rider, Rudicil said.
The Muskegon Winter Sports Complex offers a class to introduce people to the sport, which is a two and a half hour class, complete instruction and a trip down the course. The “Luge Experience” is held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday and limited to 30 people. The weekdays at the complex include private luge times for corporate group, schools and other groups.
The price of the package is $49 and Rudicil said he expects to see more than 3,000 people introduced to the sport this year.
Interested parties can also view 101 videos on the complex’s website.
Already a busy year, Rudicil is looking forward to the increase of interest. The only other tracks in the nation are Olympic tracks in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Lake Placid, New York, as well as a natural track in Marquette.
“Every time the Olympics comes around, it brings more people to experience it,” he said. “It jars people’s memories that there is a track in Michigan.”