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Masley to be first inducted into new USA Luge Hall of Fame

February 2, 2017
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor (aflynn@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Officials here at the USA Luge headquarters are busy with the World Cup racing season, but they're also making plans to document the rich 53-year history of U.S. Olympic luge teams.

As such, the organization will take major steps this year to set up a USA Luge Hall of Fame and has named one man to be the first inductee, Olympian Frank Masley, who died of cancer in September 2016 at the age of 56.

In 2016, the state of New York pledged $5 million toward updated facilities for USA Luge, including a new building to house a start track lugers would share with USA Bobsled/Skeleton, which has office space at the U.S. Olympic Training Center on Old Military Road. The bobsledding hall of fame is currently located at the James Lamy Lodge at the Olympic Sports Complex sliding track on Mount Van Hoevenberg. The luge hall of fame is expected to be located at the new start track building, according to USA Luge Director of Marketing Gordy Sheer.

Article Photos

Frank and Donna Masley
(Photo provided)

"We need space for work, office and storage, but we also need a place to tell our story," Sheer said at USA Luge headquarters at 57 Church St. Monday, Jan. 30. "We'll have trophies and equipment of historical significance, artifacts in the hall of fame."

In 2016, USA Luge CEO Jim Leahy described the new capital project as three-fold: The construction of a start track facility, an upgrade to USA Luge's administrative offices and headquarters and a "serious" upgrade to USA Luge's technical sled-building facility.

In recent months, the initial phase of a new policy was approved, creating a hall to honor America's luge athletes, coaches and officials that have performed at an extraordinary level and/or helped propel the sport to new levels. The USA Luge Hall of Fame Committee will be chosen this year. After expanding the details outlined in the initial work, the committee will target future inductees beginning in 2018.

For now, however, USA Luge officials are proud to promote their hall of fame's first inductee.

Frank Masley

Frank Masley, of Wilmington, Delaware, led the entire U.S. delegation into the 1984 opening ceremony in Sarajevo. He was a member of three Olympic teams and won 10 national championships in his career. He is widely recognized by past and present athletes as developing the year-round training regimen so as to compete at the elite international level.

"Frank was an athlete that seemed to be born to luge. He was very strong and very precise. The faster he went the cooler under pressure he was," luge Olympian Doug Bateman said after Masley's death. "He always helped his teammates and did what was best for the team and the organization. ... He was a great luger, a great husband to Donna and father to his three children. He fought his cancer with the same determination he had as an athlete and as a successful businessman. The world has lost a good one. He will be missed."

In a continuing tribute to Masley's legacy, the yearly winners of the Norton National Championship will receive the Frank Masley Trophy, which will be unveiled sometime before the races in the fall, according to Sheer.

"The approval of the Frank Masley Trophy and the establishment of a Hall of Fame are two initiatives that make tangible the legacy of a world-class athlete whose vision of training and competing were ahead of its time," USA Luge announced in a press release.

Masley was a member of the National Luge Committee, the chair of the National Team Committee, a member of the design committee for the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic track, the designer of the geometry for the team's own start ramp in Lake Placid, the creator of the Muskegon luge track, and a consultant on the installation of the fiberglass track in Muskegon.

"Frank is USA Luge," USA Luge Marketing Manager Dmitry Feld said in September. "There's nobody with the personality and accomplishments like Frank. He is Mr. Luge. When he carried the American flag in 1984, it showed that Frank's legacy is USA Luge. He is larger than life. Memories of Frank will be with us for a long, long time."

At the World Cup races held in Lake Placid in December, the International Luge Federation presented Frank's wife, Donna Masley, with a hand-made sculpture of a luge athlete in action. It has only been given on two other occasions in the history of the FIL and is presented to someone who has made a significant impact on the sport over multiple decades. The award was presented to Mrs. Masley on Dec. 3, 2016 by Svein Romstad, FIL general secretary.

"Having known Frank since the beginning of his luge career almost four decades ago," USA Luge Board President Dwight Bell said after Frank's death, "I am personally humbled and honored to have known him, and most grateful that he chose luge so he would become part of our family."

Luge was introduced as an official Winter Olympic sports in Innsbruck, Austria in 1964, and USA Luge was formed as the sport's national governing body in 1979 in Lake Placid.

When the new refrigerated luge track at Mount Van Hoevenberg, built for the 1980 Winter Olympics, was christened for competition in February 1979, it was an 18-year-old from Newark, Delaware who was named the first National AAU men's champion on that track. His name was Frank Masley.

 
 

 

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