BREAKING NEWS James Street homicide suspect turns himself in to police Full Story

20 years ago, the U.S. won its first Olympic luge medal

Gordy Sheer admits that he was the butt of a lot of jokes as he prepared to compete in doubles luge at the 1998 Naga...

Posted: Feb 9, 2018 10:20 AM
Updated: Feb 9, 2018 7:53 PM

Gordy Sheer admits that he was the butt of a lot of jokes as he prepared to compete in doubles luge at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics.

He received snide comments from the European powerhouses, since U.S. athletes had failed to earn any medals in the sport, which made its Olympic debut in 1964. He heard seemingly every joke about doubles luge, which is often mocked because competitors race on their backs—in skin-tight uniforms—with the driver directly atop his partner.

But Sheer got the last laugh, claiming the first U.S. Olympic luge medal, a silver with partner Chris Thorpe.

“It was nice to finally get it,” said Sheer, who is now USA Luge’s Marketing Director, in a phone interview. “It was a result that was built on the backs of an entire organization and all of the sliders who came before us.”

Compatriots Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin earned bronze, clocking a total time that was just .09 seconds slower. At the time, Sheer lived in a house with Grimmette and Martin.

“The four of us trained together, so we were always pushing each other,” Sheer said. “That was the icing on the cake to have three of your best friends there.”

The success of the U.S. luge athletes in Nagano changed perceptions about the program. The Fort Meyers News-Press ran a headline that read “U.S. no longer luge loser,” while The New York Times printed “Americans end luge futility with two medals.” Sheer even appeared in a segment with David Letterman’s mother on “The Late Show.”

“It helped us answer the ‘What is luge’ question,” Sheer said.

Four years later, the U.S. again won the silver and bronze medals in doubles luge. But it was not until 2014 that Erin Hamlin became the first U.S. athlete to claim an Olympic singles luge medal by earning bronze in Sochi.

“It was a big, big boost for us,” said Sheer, pointing out that USA Luge’s athlete recruitment statistics skyrocketed in 2014.

Now, as USA Luge’s Marketing Director, Sheer is tasked with generating enough revenue to put U.S. athletes in the position to compete for the country’s first Olympic luge gold medal.

“It is the last hurdle,” he said. “We really need to cross that to get to the next level. Olympic gold is the ultimate goal for an organization like ours.”

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 422003

Reported Deaths: 32787
CountyConfirmedDeaths
New York City22834323592
Suffolk438931998
Nassau437242195
Westchester362721447
Rockland13954674
Orange11180491
Erie8987671
Monroe5002285
Dutchess4619153
Onondaga3602200
Albany2614128
Oneida2175115
Ulster207692
Niagara151298
Sullivan149048
Putnam144963
Broome114369
Schenectady107537
Rensselaer77030
Saratoga76717
Columbia54637
Madison41317
Ontario36234
Warren31233
Steuben30042
Orleans29854
Fulton29724
Greene29418
Genesee2795
Herkimer2774
St. Lawrence2634
Washington26014
Chautauqua2589
Oswego2553
Wayne2523
Tompkins2340
Chenango2186
Tioga19425
Montgomery1774
Chemung1763
Livingston1768
Cattaraugus1686
Cayuga1572
Jefferson1420
Clinton1294
Otsego1185
Wyoming1185
Delaware1064
Cortland950
Seneca913
Allegany801
Schoharie690
Yates577
Essex560
Franklin540
Lewis450
Schuyler220
Hamilton80
Unassigned00
Utica
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 63°
Oneonta
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 59°
Herkimer
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 63°
Thendara
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 63°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Click here to learn more about A Healthier Mohawk Valley
Ask EPLC Sweepstakes
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
Senior Send-Off brought to you by Herkimer College
WKTV Golf Card - Under 150 left