Piqua girls qualify for Team USA Luge


PIQUA — Kaitlynn, 15, and Madison Sorrell, 11, of Piqua, qualified to a part of the 2023 Team USA Luge junior development team through the White Castle USA Luge Slider Search.

The daughters of Kari and Joe Sorrell were initially signed up by their father, Joe, as a joke after meeting a member of Team USA Luge’s C Team at No Name Athletics in Piqua. Though they were signed up as a joke in 2022, the girls attended the White Castle USA Luge Slider Search primary tryouts in Columbus. Then, at the beginning of 2023, the family received a call requesting Kaitlynn and Madison to try luge on ice at the USA Luge sanctioned training site in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“I was really not into it at first,” said Kaitlynn. “They signed me up as a joke and I didn’t really want to do it, then I went there and went down the ice.”

At the Columbus summer program, the girls were guide by U.S. Olympic and National Team coaches and athletes as they learned the basics of riding a luge sled; controlling speeds, positioning, steering and stopping. The participants in the summer program then made several runs down a paved course, as opposed to ice, on wheels. According to Joe, about 50 participants from the summer program, including Kaitlynn and Madison, were chosen to move on to Lake Placid, N.Y. where they competed to be on the junior development team.

“I was excited, but it didn’t really make any sense to me, but when I went down the ice it was actually really easy to me. On my first time (going down the ice course in Lake Placid, N.Y.) I went off the sled,” said Madison.

According to the Team USA Luge website (usaluge.org) once on the development team, the athletes work to progress through six levels of development — beginning with the Junior Development Team, then becoming Junior Team Candidate Select, Junior Team Candidates, Junior National Team Select, Junior National Team and then National Team Select. By progressing through these stages, athletes have hopes of becoming members of the National and Olympic Luge Teams.

There are only two sanctioned Luge courses in the U.S.; one in Lake Placid, N.Y. and the other in Park City, Utah. This means outside of the camps at Lake Placid, N.Y., Kaitlynn and Madison do not get much practice, but the Team USA Luge development team spends six weeks out of each year at training camps. The two went to their first ever training camp with Team USA Luge on June 16 in Lake Placid, N.Y. for a week long stay at the Olympic Training Center.

As they continue to visit Lake Placid, N.Y., and continue to perfect their luge skills, the two will have opportunities to compete against the others on the junior development team to work their way through the stages to hopefully one day make the A Team and compete in the Olympics for Team USA Luge.

“It’s just crazy to have two girls from Piqua, Ohio to say, by the way you’re on Team USA Luge,” said Joe. “I’d never have thought that my two daughters would be on a Team USA development team, maybe one day being actual Olympians. It’s crazy, especially two girls from Piqua, Ohio.”

While the whole family is excited for Kaitlynn and Madison’s prospects as members of the development team, as middle school and junior high students the girls are already involved in other activities and sports that take up a lot of their time.

“To me, I don’t know how we’re going to fit everything in,” said Kari. “It’s just all the time something, it’s going to be an interesting ride that’s for sure.”

Kaitlynn and Madison initially started their journey competing in the girls’ singles races, but their father Joe has a goal for the two to race doubles as Team USA Luge’s first sisters doubles team.

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