Luge: Kiwi talent in Jones' sights

Canadian luger Greg Jones is spending winter in Naseby this year to coach and help out at the...
Canadian luger Greg Jones is spending winter in Naseby this year to coach and help out at the township's natural ice luge facility. Photo by Rosie Manins.
A long-time member of Canada's national luge team is in Naseby this winter attempting to create professional athletes out of raw local talent.

Canadian Greg Jones will coach amateur lugers at Naseby's natural ice luge, which is set to host part of the New Zealand Winter Games in August.

Jones (21) has been luging for 17 years and has been part of the Canadian national team since he was 15.

With a natural ice luge facility at his home town of Hinton, in Alberta, Jones' parents encouraged him into the sport from an early age.

His parents still coached teams.

As well as coaching, Jones will undertake most of the maintenance on Naseby's ice luge, which opened for the first time last year.

He is excited about a New Zealand winter and wants to make the most of the new track.

"Naseby's luge is going to be a good facility for training. I'm hoping that, within a couple of years, New Zealand can produce some competitive athletes for the world circuit."

Jones' home area in western Canada was not renowned for luging, although the sport was more popular there than in New Zealand, he said.

His love of the activity centred around speed, technical difficulty and adrenaline.

"It's a lot of co-ordination. The fact that you can go down a track at the speeds we do and make the corners attracts me to it.

"The closest thing I can compare it to is motocross, because it's high-speed, highly technical and there's lots of adrenaline," he said.

Achieving excellence within the sport was difficult, as often the difference between first and fifth place could be less than a second, he said.

Jones arrived at Naseby in late May and plans to stay through winter before taking some time to travel in September.

He might visit Australia before returning to Canada for the northern hemisphere winter, when luge training will again become his major focus.

Although not sure if he will return for a second trip to New Zealand, Jones said he would definitely think about it.

"I like it so far," he said.

The Naseby luge is set to open for winter on June 20, weather depending.

 

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