A pair of Saranac Central School juniors received guidance from Olympic coaches this week to prepare for their first official International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (FIBT) race as part of the Lake Placid Invitational Race Friday.
Driver Hunter Church and brakeman George Miller have been partners for two years after meeting as teammates for their high school football team. The pair placed fifth in a field of 10 sleds Friday against competition that included teams from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
Church, who has been bobsledding since moving to the area about eight years ago, said he got involved thanks to his father.
“My dad used to slide back in the ‘80s, and he was actually a future hopeful for the ‘88 Olympic games,” Church said. “I took part in the Ride Program, where basically anyone can pay and take a ride. I absolutely loved it. I bugged my dad to get me into the driver’s seat, and at 12 years old I got my first experience and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
The two have not been slowed by the cold winter, often going to the track immediately after school ends. As part of the USA Bobsled Team and the ORDA development program for future Olympic athletes, the pair has worked to get as much practice time as possible.
“We’ve had a lot of opportunities to slide this winter,” Church said. “We go pretty much every night each week, at the very least three times per week. We pretty much leave school and go down there until about 10:30 p.m. It’s been an excellent experience and one of my best seasons bobsledding as well.”
While Church has been involved in the sport for some time, he said getting Miller involved came when he began looking for a teammate.