X-Game Street Lugers
Jared and I arrived at the bar in Innsbruck, Austria at 2200. We had rushed down there from Germany after a bartender friend of ours, who we’ll call “Irish”, gave us a call to tell us that there was going to be a kick-ass private party at his bar. Irish was a former Irish special-ops guy who alternated between being funny as shit, giving us free drinks, and scaring the crap out of us with his perverse stories.
Anyway, leaving Irish alone for now, the city of Innsbruck is awesome – nestled between four mountains that had hosted the Olympic Games – it has its share of great slopes and cool bars. The phenomenal venue, coupled with the fact that we had just returned from our 2000 Kosovo deployment and had pre-gamed heavily on Red Bull and vodka, made for the beginning of a great night.
Prior to continuing this saga, it is important to note that long before Vince and Owen made the movie, guys have been making up bullshit stories about what they actually do for a living – we’re not going to take credit for inventing the game, but we will take credit for ending up in the most ridiculous situation as a result of playing the game. This is where the story really begins:
Jared and I had a variation to the game – each night a different person got to choose what we were going to be (rodeo clown, NASA engineer, etc.), BUT that person chose the profession right at the door, so there was no time to prepare – it made it more exciting.
So there we are at the door. Jared looks over at me with a shit-eating grin and says, “We’re X-Game Street Lugers.” We walk into the bar and get stopped at the door, but Irish motions to let us in. The place is rocking – it is literally full of people from every country you can imagine and there are a disproportionate percentage of absolutely beautiful women. Fearless as always and out of place wearing jeans and t-shirts in a room full of people that are dressed up, we assume the arrogant disposition that (we think) an extreme luger would have.
We’re talking to everyone – just walking up on conversations and chiming in. People seemed to love us (or we were already too drunk to tell the difference), and in short order we became something of the “life” of this particular party. Strangely, everybody seemed to know each other and soon we had been introduced to at least 80% of the party. As we were making our rounds, one girl introduced us to her friend, a beautiful 19-year-old blonde Swedish girl.
Girls: What do you guys do?
Nick: We’re X-Game Street Lugers.
Girl: Wow – that’s crazy! How did you get into that?
Jared: We used to be base jumpers, but the rush just wasn’t enough.
Girl: What are you doing here?
Nick: Oh, we’ve got an exhibition run this weekend. Trying to bring streeters to Europe – right now it’s mostly an American thing.
Girl: Oh my God – the more I think about it, the more I think you guys are nuts! I could never stay in my pod on the street! I’d be so worried about crashing! You guys want a drink?
Jared and Nick in unison: Sure!
I was wondering what the heck she was talking about when she described her “pod”, but it was at that moment that Jared and I spotted a couple of dudes that were clearly American. In our experience, we rarely saw Americans in Innsbruck and took the opportunity to introduce ourselves.
Nick: Hey guys! I’m Nick and this is my friend Jared. You guys American?
Taller Guy: Holy shit! Yeah man – we’re American! We never see other Americans here! My name is Chris and this is my partner Clay.
(handshakes are exchanged)
Clay: So what are you guys doing here?
Nick: Oh, we’re X-Game Street Lugers and we’re down here for an exhibition.
Chris: No f*cking way man! That’s awesome! Clay and I are partners on the Olympic Luge Team!
Clay: I’m glad they invited you guys to this party. We’ve got almost every slider from every national team in the house!
You’ve Got to Be F*cking Kidding Me
It is at this point that Jared and I realized how far over our heads we were. My jaw was on the ground. What are the f*cking odds? We had two choices: 1) Dismiss ourselves from the conversation and quietly fade out the door. 2) Embrace the fact that we are sitting on the goldmine “guy props” story of our lives and that there was no freakin’ way we would ever be in such an unbelievable situation again.
This, my friends, was a Ranger Up moment.
I actually had a brief vision of Ferris Bueller saying, “One: You can never go too far…” Jared and I looked at each other: Game on. We sized them up and went for it.
Nick: Chris, we are not actually X-Game Street Lugers.
Jared: We just made it up to meet women.
Chris: Does it work?
Nick and Jared: What do you think?
Chris: That’s f*cking bullshit! We actually do this for a living and it doesn’t help at all.
Clay: (laughing his ass off) How the hell did you guys end up here?
Nick: We’re in the Army. Seriously man – we need some help.
Jared: You guys need to hook us up with some Luge Lingo or we are screwed.
Coolest Lugers Ever
Chris and Clay: (now laughing so ridiculously hard they can’t control themselves) Absolutely.
Chirs: First of all, we don’t call ourselves “lugers” because it sounds too much like “losers.” We’re “sliders.”
Nick: Ok, we’re sliders.
Clay: When you eat it and crash, it’s called a Sturz.
Jared: Got it.
Chris: A bunch of curves in a row, rapid-fire without a break is called a labyrinth.
Nick: Ok, ok, labyrinth.
Chris and Clay spent the next few minutes quizzing us on terminology and we got up to snuff pretty quickly. We also learned that they weren’t just competitors but had amassed a bunch of silver and bronze Olympic medals since they began competing. Chris had actually been in the 92, 94, and 98 Olympics and was gearing up for 2002. Clay had a similarly impressive story and had just lost a ton of weight so he could replace Chris’s retired partner.
Liquid Courage and a Total Disregard for Everything
Jared and I, now knowing the absurd situation we were in, actually began to minimize the accomplishments of the other partygoers with classics like:
“No, I’m not saying that Ice Luge is not hard, I’m just saying that on the street there’s no place to slide if you crash.”
“No – street sliding will never be in the Olympics. You see, the Street Slide is not a sport. It’s a way of life.”
“People die on the street every day. You accept that as part of the job.”
“Sometimes I wish I was still satisfied with ice sliding – you know – it’d be nice to know that I was coming home every day – but I just don’t feel the same passion for it… You understand? Not that I don’t respect it, but I need to live my life balls out – doing what I love.”
Alcohol continued to flow freely and Jared had everyone rolling with laughter, including a contingent of British girls that thought he was the most unbelievable human being ever. It was at this point that he decided to take it to the next level. With no warning, he began to repeatedly shout out, “Nick has something to say!”
I looked at him, whispered “asshole” and jumped up on a table top so that I was looking at everyone, who for the most part, fell remarkably silent. I let the power of the Rot Bull guide me.
Me: “Hey, I have a serious question for you guys. You know when you’re coming around a turn really hard and you almost lose it? But as a result you end up going a lot faster? We don’t have a term for that on the street. Do you guys?
There are actually tons of people discussing this now – murmurs throughout the crowd and whatnot. I start hearing multiple “No, there’s nothing” or “we don’t have a term for that” responses. Jared is physically on the ground laughing, no longer caring if we get “found out.”
I motion with my arms for the group to go silent (I’m not even kidding) and as they do, I shout, “From now on, we’ll call it Gleaming the Curve!” (Thank you Christian Slater)
The crowd erupts. Everyone actually starts using “gleaming the curve” in conversation. Clay walks up to me with Chris. The two of them are absolutely dying. Jared and I are hammered and still amazed that we are pulling this off. Clay puts his hands on each of our shoulders and says, “If we get interviewed AT ALL, we are going to use the term “gleaming the curve.” That was f*cking phenomenal.
Several weeks later, Jared and I were watching a recap of the Ice Luge on some weird European station and we heard, albeit underneath the loud German translator, what sounded like the following from Chris and Clay: “It was a real tough run, we were really gleaming the curve on the second turn, but we pulled it out and we are really happy with our performance.”
My entire existence was vindicated in that one moment.
Note: If Chris and Clay ever read this, thank you. You guys were quite literally two of the coolest dudes we had ever met and you made this story possible. Let us know how you are doing.
Copyright of Nick