Ever wonder how members of the US national luge team got their start?

Well, the answer is coming to Stephenville.

On their way from Phoenix, Ariz., the Verizon-USA Luge Slider Search will stop in Stephenville to demonstrate luge riding. Saint-Gobain Abrasives is sponsoring the event.

The stop in Stephenville will allow members of the community to come out and see what the sport of luge is all about.

The 30-foot long ramp used for the Slider Search will be set up in the Wal-Mart parking lot from 3-7 p.m. on Thursday. This ramp allows USA Luge coach, Peter Motta, and athletes, Julia Clukey and Christian Niccum, a chance to show interested persons the basics of luge without ice. The sled is equipped with wheels, which gives an accurate idea of what it would be like on ice. Saint-Gobain will provide a hot dog and drink for a $1 and will give all the proceeds to the United Way.

Saint-Gobain has been providing the USA Luge Team with leading equipment and technical support for 20 years and in 2005, Paul Valle, vice-president of Saint-Gobain Coated Abrasives Worldwide, said he realized that the products the team was requesting for their sleds were not the best it could be.

“They weren't getting the most up-to-date technology to be competitive and I wanted to make sure that they have the very best in our cutting-edge products and the most informative tech advice we provide, Valle said.

Valle and his family went to the USA Luge Team's headquarters in Lake Placid, N.Y., so that he could work directly with the team and better equip them with the tools they need to be the best. Since that time, the Saint-Gobain team has been actively involved in preparing them for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vacouver. And Valle has been working directly from his office here in Stephenville.

The US Luge Team wanted to come to Stephenville to meet with the employees of Saint-Gobain Abrasives and residents to thank them for their support, said Valle's secretary, Kristi McKinney.

During the Verizon-USA Luge Slider Search clinic in Southlake, Coach Motta, Clukey, and Niccum will teach children ages 11-14 the basics of riding a luge sled, including position, steering and stopping. With an idea of the basic skills needed, the kids make several runs on a wheel-equipped luge sled, and test their physical skills through a series of fitness tests. Those showing the most potential are asked to train in Lake Placid, N.Y., or Park City, Utah, and can be considered for the 2008-09 USA Luge development team.