Sadie Martin ready to slide into new season
LAKE PLACID — When 15-year-old Vermontville native Sadie Martin geared up for her first trip down the Mount Van Hoevenberg luge run at start No. 3 — the women’s start — nerves hit her body almost instantly.
“I had like a mental breakdown before I pulled off the handles,” she said. “I was like in full tears. My coach was like, ‘Just get off the ice and let someone else go.'”
Martin, who was 14 years old at the time, got off the ice and watched as someone else went down before she got back on. And once again she had second thoughts.
“I was just like, ‘I’ve got to do this,'” Martin said. “‘It’s going to happen one of these days.'”
Despite her nerves, Martin pulled off the bar and slid down the track at a blazing speed of anywhere from 60 to 80 mph.
“I was super scared, but I was scared for no reason,” she said. “It was one of the most exhilarating things that had ever happened to me.”
From that moment on, Martin fell in love with the sport and hasn’t stopped sliding.
“It’s the one thing I look forward to. We have camps and I’m just counting down the days to it,” Martin said. “The group of people that I do it with are amazing and I’ve just made so many more friends.”
Despite growing up a few miles outside of Lake Placid, Martin said she didn’t know anything about luge until she attended an event hosted by the Adirondack Luge Club.
“They were doing this try luge thing and it was on Facebook,” she said. “My parents were like ‘Try it out.’ We went and they showed us how to steer and pushed us down the track and I fell in love with it.”
This upcoming season, Martin will be competing on the USA Luge junior national candidate team — or “C” team — just one spot below its junior national team. It will be Martin’s fifth season.
Her goal is to keep climbing the ladder toward the top of the United States women’s rankings and hopefully earn a trip to a future Olympic Winter Games as a competitor in women’s singles luge. Her goal might not be out of reach, either.
At just 15 years old, Martin already has shown she can be successful in the sport. In 2022, she finished in third place overall at the Norton Youth National Championships and this past season she narrowly missed out on a podium spot after taking second place in one of two races at the youth nationals event.
Martin will not only have the opportunity to compete in more events this coming season, but she’ll be able to travel more after just barely missing the travel team last year.
“They went in December to Europe and they visited two tracks there for three weeks,” Martin said. “Then they came back and we traveled as a full team to Canada and then to Park City, Utah. Then after that, there was another team — that I didn’t make either — and they went to Pyeongchang and they were there for two weeks. Then we have camps in between in Lake Placid.”
While the summers are technically the offseason for luge athletes, Martin trains all summer. A day of training consists of either working out or practicing her starts at USA Luge headquarters in Lake Placid.
“We (also) have two, two-week camps this summer,” she said. “We have at least four camps throughout the winter and usually they are two weeks or three weeks depending.”
Unlike most sports, luge requires its athletes to learn about how to build their own sleds and Martin said already knows how to put one together.
“We don’t know how to construct the actual pieces, but we know how to screw in the bolts and stuff,” Martin said. “We do all the fine-tuning on our sleds and stuff, but if we don’t we just ask our coaches, too. I definitely learned a lot more this year than I did this past year.”
In addition to training, traveling and competing during the winter, Martin still continues her high school studies, having just completed her sophomore year at Northwood School in Lake Placid.
“School is definitely an obstacle. You have to manage your time very well,” Martin said. “My teachers are very adaptive to me leaving because it’s a sports school to begin with. I just let them know if I’m going to have to turn something in late or if I can get an extension because I don’t have enough time to finish it. It’s definitely an obstacle. It’s definitely a little bit more difficult, but Northwood is definitely more adaptable to my schedule, too.”
But no matter the obstacle, Martin believes her luge journey is worth it.
“My friends and I, we barely miss out on any runs because we love it so much and want to keep doing it,” she said. “I see people that get hurt — and not like crazy hurt — and they take the rest of the runs off for the day. I feel like you should be taking as many runs that are available.”
Like many luge athletes, Martin has to rely on fundraising to help pay for the luge season’s training fees. For more information and to donate, visit https://tinyurl.com/2p8ymuh3.