Costa Rican Olympic Hopefuls Train for 2-man Luge in Local Gutters

Inspired by Sochi, brothers plan to ride banana leaf to 2018 Games

Tico LugeTURRIALBA – Alvaro and Esteylor Cortez will have one word on their minds the next four years: Pyeongchang.

Though they can’t pronounce the word, the Turrialba-born brothers, inspired by NBC broadcasts and Youtube videos of the Sochi games, are determined to become the first Costa Ricans to participate in the 2-man luge in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pee-jong-chang, South Korea.

Their homemade strategy: A banana leaf, a Swiss guy and neighborhood rain gutters.

Without ice or a proper track to train on, the Cortez brothers practice in steep rain gutters along the mountain-side roads of Turrialba. Unable to acquire an Olympic luge sled, they ride large banana leaves shipped in from Sarapiqui.

When asked why they would train for a winter sport in a tropical country instead of just street luging, they scoffed.

“Have you seen the condition of those mountain roads? A mae could get himself killed loocheenk there. Gutters are much safer at those speeds,” Alvaro said. Street equipment can also be expensive on a call-center employee budget, but banana leaves are free, he said.

“And when we get to the Olympics, I’m sure we can buy an old lootch sled at an Americana,” added Esteylor.

Though it all sounds like something out of a Disney or John Candy movie, the Cortez brothers, led by Swiss ex-pat and retired professional luger Fritz Dettwiler, are confident they can qualify for the games in “Chino otro”.

“I always said Ticos are some of the most aero dynamic peoples in the world,” Dettwiler told el Peji. “These guys have small frames and spend a lot of their time at the gym only working out their arms. Seriously, they look like the fat ends of alphorns.”

“Plus,” he added, “It’s hilarious listening to them try to pronounce the word luge.”

Dettwiler says that, despite the climate and conditions, the hardest part of training in Costa Rica is getting past the homophobia.

“Neither of them is heavy enough for a 1-man luge, so 2-man is the only way.”

The coach said it’s been a struggle to convince them to lie on top of one other in skin-tight clothes. He told El Peji the two brothers are very concerned about being called playos and are still deciding who’s a “top” and who’s a “bottom”. Dettwiler says it really doesn’t matter, just so long as they make up their minds soon.

“They weigh about the same. They need to get into a routine, though. Just when one starts to get comfortable being on top, some passing motorist screams maricon and the arguing starts all over again.”

With the odds against them, Alvaro and Esteylor remain optimistic.

“We don’t need to win gold,” said Esteylor. “We’re already heroes in Tiquicia. We’re pioneer lugglers.”

“People think we’re crazy now,” added Alvaro. “But soon all the world will know as the biggest looshers on the planet.”

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