By Tora Yacey 

Next Generation: Junior National Luge Team Member

Picture this. 

Standing on top of a toboggan hill on a beautiful sunny day, not a cloud in the sky. The hill is perfect. It’s steep but not too steep and it’s got the perfect path already carved into the hill. It’s just waiting for you to get on your sled and go for the ride of your life.

That’s why I love luge. 

Just like tobogganing, I get the same adrenalin rush going down the track. The curves, the turns, the speed, yes especially the speed. I don’t think even if you asked me to, I could ever go slow. 

When I am on the luge track, I am hitting speeds of 130 kilometres per hour. It’s like NASCAR racing, only you’ve got nothing but your suit, your sled and an open track ahead of you. So if you want to go fast and don’t want to do it in a car, this is definitely a sport you should check out. 

It all started for me four years ago when my family had moved from Sherwood Park Alberta, down to Calgary. At the time I was playing hockey and my Dad saw a sign that said:

‘Future Olympians Wanted’

 He encouraged me to try it, saying it would be an opportunity of a lifetime. So I gave it a shot. I thought it was a cool experience, but I quickly went back to playing hockey. Shortly after, my Mom got an email that changed everything. They told her that I had made the team. So I decided to give it a shot and I joined the team. Since then, I haven’t looked back. I even quit hockey because I love it so much. I am 15 years old and am now on the Next Generation – Junior National Luge Team.  

My biggest accomplishment so far was at the Luge Junior World Cup last December. I should have been in the ‘Youth A’ category but there was too many kids in that age range, so I raced at a higher level, with the Juniors which is for kids ages 17 and up.  I didn’t do too bad either I placed 11th out of 23. The way I see it, it’s giving me experience competing against athletes at a higher level, so when I get to that level, I’ll be ready.

Besides being a high level athlete and going to the National Sports School in Calgary, my life is also way different from other kids my age. I have Type 1 Diabetes, I am a high performing athlete AND I have diabetes. 

When I played hockey, I used to look up to Max Domi, an NHL player who also has Type 1 Diabetes. But as far as I know, there’s no one with Type 1 Diabetes in luge and that’s okay. I can be the first one. 

In hockey, it was harder because I had to test my blood sugar levels before, in the middle and after the game because of how physically demanding it was on my body. In luge, it’s not as physically demanding because you’re not doing as much exercise. You’re sliding down the track. But I still do as much as everyone else. If you saw me at practice, competition or on race day, you would never know that I had diabetes or that I was any different. 

I find it sad when I hear kids get diagnosed with diabetes and they quit playing sports. I was doing hockey, ringette and dance when I found out I had diabetes and yes I had to stop one, so I stopped dance, but I wasn’t going to quit it all and go sit on the couch. I have to do something, I love luge, I love sports and I knew I wanted to keep doing something. Plus we’ve gotten way better at managing it, then when I started.

So if you have diabetes, please don’t give up on your dreams. It doesn’t change you from anyone else. Yes you have needles. Yes you have to get insulin. Yes you always have to balance your blood sugar levels. But you are still a human being, you can still do the same things as everyone else. 

This is who I am. I am resilient. I am never going to stop even when something bad happens. I am going to keep going, I will keep getting back up and I am going to keep doing all the things I want to do.

So if you’re looking for me? I’ll be on the track. And if you love tobogganing? You should try luge. It’s truly a run like no other.

See you on the track,