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Genovese Recalls Olympic Experience

Rockford resident Debra Genovese competed in the women's luge in 1980.
ROCKFORD-When the 1980 Winter Games were held in Lake Placid, New York Debra Genovese was there. She was one of three women on the women’s luge team. She was the North American Champion.  Her goal for the games?

"I wanted to finish. I wanted to do the best I could of course," says Genovese.

She competed over four days and wound up with a 15th place finish.

"And that was the best the U.S. women had done up to that point, so I was very happy with that," says Genovese.

What didn’t make her happy was having to skip the opening ceremonies for the games. Her first run in the luge was scheduled right after the ceremonies.

"You know I felt that was the best thing to do for the race and my times," she says.

Genovese still has the jacket that the USA athletes were given to wear in the opening ceremonies. And she has her other team USA jacket.

In the luge, Genovese’s sled would hit a high speed of 65 miles per hour.  Many things about the luge event have changed over the years, the sleds, the courses. But Genovese says the keys to a fast run are still the same. Staying focused, keeping body movement to a minimum and a powerful start.

"You have to have a good start. We have kind of our feet locked into the runners, and we rock our sled in a forward and backward motion and kind of slingshot out. And we have spikes we can wear on our finger tips or on the knuckles and hit the ice to propel yourself a little bit more."

As for all those curves and twists.

"When you’re setting up to get into a curb you want to get on the side that the curb is on," says Genovese. "You want to have a good entrance. You want to make a nice smooth line and a nice exit."

Genovese is originally from Marengo. She now lives in Rockford.
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