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Robert Sullivan
January 25, 1988
A new selection process saved the day for sliders at the U.S. Olympic trials
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January 25, 1988

Sometimes You Just Can't Luge

A new selection process saved the day for sliders at the U.S. Olympic trials

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The discretionary doubles spot is being reserved for Zajonc-Nardiello. (The USLA won't make a final decision until it knows if Zajonc will be physically able to slide in Calgary.) "At the hospital Miro's spirits were up, and he said, "Maybe we can do it,' " Nardiello said. "I think we'll be there."

Warner, 25, of Mount Baldy, Calif., came through the trials in good health. She finished first among the women and on Tuesday broke Terwillegar's U.S. women's record with a run of 38.243 seconds on the 740.5-meter course. On Saturday she lowered the record by .163.

Warner is the survivor of a scary crash and a 15th-place finish at the '84 Sarajevo Games. She has improved steadily and finished fifth at the '87 worlds. "I'm looking at Calgary differently than Sarajevo," she says. "Even going into Sarajevo, I was looking at Calgary. I'm still looking at Calgary. No more of the winsome, luge-some attitude."

For the U.S. women to win a medal, one of them will have to break through East Germany's iron curtain, which finished 1-2-3 at Sarajevo.

Frank Masley of Newark, Del., finished first among the men at Lake Placid and qualified for his third Olympics. Masley, 27, was the flag bearer for the 1984 U.S. Olympic team. "That's still the highlight of my career," says Masley, who in 12 years has won six U.S. singles titles and three doubles titles and will retire from the sport this year.

At the start of a potentially brilliant career is Cammy Myler, 18, who finished second to Warner last week. Myler deferred starting her freshman year at Dartmouth for 12 months to stay home in Lake Placid and concentrate on making the Olympic team. "We're for real," says Myler. "We have the coaching, and now we have the sleds, too."

The coach and the sleds arrived simultaneously. Guiding the team is Wolfgang Schaedler, 29, of Liechtenstein, a perennial among the top 10 sliders in the world, who retired after Sarajevo. Two years ago he was approached by several U.S. lugers and agreed to become their guru. "His first season traveling with us was last year," says Warner, "and, miracle of miracles, we made the big jump."

The U.S. had 23 top 10 placings in World Cup events last season. Zajonc-Nardiello became the first U.S. doubles team to win a World Cup medal, and finished fourth in the '87 rankings. Myler was the first U.S. woman to win a medal in World Cup luge competition, and Kennedy's ninth-place finish in the '87 worlds was the best ever by a U.S. man.

Schaedler has always made his own sleds, and he made 22 for the national team. Wolfie, as the team calls him, is modest about his artisanship. "Luge is a big head-game," he says. "You believe better in one sled, you go faster. Really, the athletes are doing it themselves."

Doubles specialist Nardiello, who had to do it himself to secure a place on the Olympic team, finished second in the men's singles. Joe Barile of Saddle River, N.J., and Steve Maher of Chicago won the doubles berth for Calgary.

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