Learning from a local Olympian

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A local Olympian recently visited the Airdrie Public Library to share his experiences with the sport of luge.


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Born and raised in Airdrie, Eric Pothier was a National Champion six times in the Doubles Category.

He first got involved with the sport in 1990 at age 10, and he later went on to compete in two Winter Olympics in 2002 and 2006.

He travelled all over the world to compete from Salt Lake City, Utah to Torino, Italy.

“It’s definitely not something that everyone gets to do,” he said.

“My career allowed me to see and do a lot of different things that the average person might not get to.”

In luge, athletes speed feet-first down an icy track on a fiberglass sled that is attached to two sharp blades on the bottom called runners.

Luge is considered one of the most dangerous sports in the Olympic Games, with lugers reaching speeds of up to 140 kilometres per hour.

Pothier escaped any serious injuries from his career in luge, other than a third degree burn on his hand from friction against the ice.

“I’ve had a few close calls, but overall I’ve been pretty lucky,” he said.

Lugers have to be able to react to conditions on the track and make slight adjustments in steering in a split second.

To steer the sled, athletes apply pressure to the runners with their calves or shift their weight with their shoulders.

“Learning how to get out of trouble is the most important skill to have,” said Pothier.

“You have to stay calm. Don’t panic, and focus on steering where you need to go.”

His love of the competition pushed him to keep training hard for success throughout his career.


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However, he once considered quitting at a young age, after he took some skin off his nose in a crash.

“I don’t like to quit,” said Pothier.

“Success does take natural talent and drive, but I think you should keep putting in the effort until you see the writing on the wall.”

To other young athletes, his one piece of advice is speak up and ask coaches for help when needed.

“What changed everything for me was talking to my coaches and being vocal about what I was struggling with in training,” he said.

“Give it your all and don’t give up. Facing a little adversity is just going to make you better.”

Pothier officially retired from luge in 2009, but still finds ways to be involved.

For the Airdrie 2020 Alberta Winter Games, he served on the Board of Executives and made an appearance at the opening ceremonies.

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