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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 16Mar02
By Deborah Carl
Download to My Handheld!

LDS Father and Son Luge for Venezuela

PARK CITY, UTAH -- Werner Hoeger, 39, and his son, Chris, 17, spent more than $70,000 competing in luge events around the world and were on the road for 68 of 79 days at one point, honing their craft and sharing unforgettable moments. After a lifetime of dreaming and years of training, the father and son competed at the Olympics representing Venezuela. Werner finished 40 and Chris finished 31 out of 50.

Werner, director of the Human Performance Lab at Boise State and author of six books on fitness, was Venezuela's all-around gymnastics champion six years in a row, but his country never qualified for the Olympics. "He was very big in my country," said Maria Boccalandro, the president of Venezuela's sports federation. "When I was growing up, I had two posters on my wall. One was Mark Spitz and one was Werner Hoeger. I always thought Werner would be in the Olympics."

In 1998, Werner saw Iginia Boccalandro, the first luger from Venezuela. He contacted her and she invited him back to his hometown in Merida, Venezuela to learn luge. Werner, brought two sons, Jon, who was 16 and Chris, who was 13, and his 11-year-old daughter, Julianne. In 1999, they trained on wheels on the street with former U.S. luger Jon Owen. A total of 124 athletes came to the tryout. Thirteen made it onto the ice that first year, five qualified for racing.

"In Calgary, my first time on ice, I was knocked unconscious, broke my ankle, put a pin in my ankle. I was hooked," Hoeger said. Some fathers ask their sons to go golfing with them, few ask their sons to grab a sled, travel the world and slide down a sheet of ice at deadly speeds.

Some criticize Werner and Chris for competing for Venezuela, but they feel they are legitimate. They traveled the World Cup circuit. They qualified for the Games. Chris said. "Yeah, I might not really be Venezuelan, but I'm dang proud to be competing for Venezuela, to be representing the country of my father's heritage. I wouldn't have it any other way." Werner and Chris were the first father and son to ever participate in the Olympics together. Chris plans on leaving the sport to complete a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Father, son realize their Olympic dream after sacrifices
Seattle WA Times 12Feb02 S2
By Steve Kelley: Times staff columnist


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