World Cup Luge event at Negaunee’s Lucy Hill canceled

NEGAUNEE – The 2017 International Luge Federation’s World Cup natural luge competition scheduled in January at Lucy Hill in Negaunee has been canceled by the United States Luge Association.

According to a news release by the Upper Peninsula Luge Club, the organization’s executive board held an emergency meeting recently to determine the future of natural luge in the United States.

“The Upper Peninsula Luge Club is shocked and saddened to learn the 2017 World Cup at Lucy Hill has been canceled by the United States Luge Association,” the release states.

In addition to canceling the world cup event in January, UPLC coach Tammy Wills was removed from the United States Luge Natural Track Commission by the USLA board.

UPLC board member Fred Anderson said Wills traveled to a USLA board meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, on May 14 to represent the local club.

Anderson said the USLA had requested a representative of the UPLC attend the meeting because natural track luge and the World Cup were on the agenda.

Anderson said that the reasons for the cancelation of the World Cup event and Wills’ termination are not entirely clear.

“I think it just comes down to a difference of opinion,” Anderson said.

Anderson said Wills expressed concerns about USLA lagging behind its European counterpart in the promotion of natural track luge as an Olympic sport while at the meeting.

Anderson said Wills followed up on the matter once she returned to the U.P.

Soon after, the USLA indicated that the 2017 Natural Track World Cup would be given back to the International Luge Federation, Anderson said.

USLA officials could not be reached for comment before press time this morning.

A letter from the UPLC board written to the USLA Executive Board stands behind Wills.

“We believe Ms. Wills was offering her honest professional insight from her years of experience. … As a representative of our committee, Ms. Wills was only pointing out our concerns of what appears to be some discrepancies between the FIL (International Luge Federation) and the USLA regarding not only the World Cup, but the natural luge program in general,” the letter states.

Anderson said he was sorry that the event was not going to be held at Lucy Hill, an 800-meter course that holds the distinction of being the only full-length natural track in the United States.

“The thing that we’re sad about is that the community was rallying behind us and we were getting our sponsors all lined up,” Anderson said. “We got a donation from the Marquette Community Foundation to overhaul the start building and … build a junior start building. We also used nearly 7,000 feet of lumber to rebuild the walls of the track.”

Anderson said UPLC will continue to promote both artificial and natural luge as it has done for more than three decades by focusing on domestic programs and providing family friendly winter activities for Marquette County residents as well as visitors to the area.

For his part, Anderson said he has hope for the future.

“I know that we can all work together to promote this sport,” Anderson said.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-486-4401.