For the love of luge

Elsmere kindergartners get a virtual front-row view of one athlete’s Olympic dreams

Olympian Aidan Kelly, left, and Elsmere fourth-grader Robert Davis share a hug.

Olympian Aidan Kelly, left, and Elsmere fourth-grader Robert Davis share a hug.

— Nancy Davis never thought she would meet a future Olympian while on a miniature golf outing.

Davis and her family were on vacation in August on upper Sacandaga Lake when her son became bored. He really wanted to go mini golfing, but it was raining and the family wasn’t sure if the local spot would be open.

“They opened for us, and we were grateful,” said Davis, a kindergarten teacher at Elsmere Elementary. “I kept looking at the wall where there was a picture of this kid in his (luge) uniform, and he looked familiar.”

Working behind the counter was Aidan Kelly, a 19-year-old member of USA Luge’s junior team, who was training at the Lake Placid facility for the coming year’s Olympic qualifiers. Kelly confirmed it was his picture on the wall and that he worked at the golf course when he wasn’t training.

Davis said being a teacher, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put Kelly in touch with her incoming students. Kelly said he would be delighted to email and video chat with her class when school began again in the fall.

Davis’ son, Robert, is in the fourth grade at Elsmere, and the two classes began meeting together when the time came to begin their correspondence with the luger. Robert looked up to Kelly, Davis said, and he wanted share the experience her students would be having with his own classmates. To start, each fourth-grader was given a kindergarten buddy to sit with and help during those times. Davis said she also wanted to explain what luge was – a winter sport where participants sled face-up at speeds of up to 87 mph – for those who didn’t know.

At first the meetings were simple, with the students asking questions and Kelly answering by email or video.

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