Imagine ... a calm, cool day in a forest of tall trees – you’re lying on your back ... waiting ... then you’re off – feet first, the sled scrapping against the ice, cold air rushing past your face; you’re picking up pace, negotiating the bends, the trees are becoming a blur, faster and faster you go.
The luge is an exciting participant and spectator sport and the community initiated Naseby Luge is the only one of its type in the southern hemisphere. It is part of the ice sports’ complex set in the Black Forest at Naseby in the Maniototo, which also includes an indoor all-year dedicated curling rink and outdoor winter ice rink.
The Naseby Luge is a winter-only facility. It was built in 2008 and is a 360 metre-long, 10-curve outdoor natural track, where racing sleds can expect to reach speeds of about 70kph. A natural track is unbanked with a base of hard-packed snow covered with a layer of ice, generally enclosed within wooden walls. In contrast, the more common Olympic luge takes place on expensive artificially refrigerated tracks of more than 1km in length.
A natural luge offers a good start for aspiring luge athletes, but it is also very well suited to recreational use. The Naseby luge has a selection of sleds to suit everyone from beginners to competitors to ensure everyone can go at a pace they are comfortable with. It also has trikes with skids instead of wheels and steel spikes that act as brakes.
Hurtling down the track may sound like a thrill-seeker’s dream, but luging does require some knowhow and skills. Scheduled training camps are available, but at other times during the winter season from June to August, bookings are essential and sessions always include training and supervision by an instructor.