Christian Niccum at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid.
by Karen Diefendorf
For the second year, Christian Niccum, son of Norris and Linda Niccum of Woodinville, has won the doubles' championship in the Junior World Cup Series for luge racing.
Now 18, Nikkum's devotion to the sport began when he was 12 years old. "As a little boy, Christian was always adventurous," his father said. "He was the third boy in our family and was always trying to keep up with his brothers. I think that helped him develop self-confidence early."
When neighborhood friends told Christian about the excitement of luge racing, he couldn't wait for an opportunity. So, when tryouts were held on a Seattle soap box derby track, using a luge sled equipped with wheels, Christian was there and loving every minute of it.
As a result of that first experience, he was one of 30 nationwide chosen to attend a luge camp in Calgary, Canada. By 1991, he was one of nine sliders invited to the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Besides the time Christian spends training in Lake Placid, he and his partner also spend much of their winters on the European racing circuit. The sport is one that has resulted in ice burn scars and one in which the winner is usually determined by 1,000ths of a second.
But Christian explained his dedication: "I love the speed, risk, and challenge." In spite of the danger inherent in any sport involving such great speed, he is deeply committed and looking forward to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Utah.
When asked why Christian, at the age of 12, was identified and chosen to become part of the Olympic training program, his father said that his son has always been very coachable. "He listens to his coaches and has no fear of the track or the speed."
When he is not sliding, Christian is a student at Woodinville High School, where he competes in the high jump and the triple jump.