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SMALL TOWNS: Suamico high school freshman’s Olympic dreams as member of Team USA

Updated: Feb. 10, 2022 at 6:10 PM CST
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SUAMICO, Wis. (WBAY) - As U.S. athletes compete in the Beijing Olympics, there are hundreds of younger Team USA athletes in training to become a future Olympian.

One of them, a Bay Port High School freshman, is a member of Team USA Luge.

“Small Towns” traveled to Suamico where gold medal dreams are building.

If there is a winter sport to be played, Brock Bartol is more than eager to take a shot. But at the top of his list?

“Luge,” says Brock with a big grin.

That’s right, luge, and the fascination started when Brock was just 9.

“Way back in 2016 I first heard about it on the news, you could try it during the summer on the road,” says Brock.

“And when he came home he had said, oh this was the best day of my whole summer, so I knew he was hooked,” says Angela Bartol, Brock’s mom.

Brock took part in what’s called a Slider Search where Team USA Luge travels the country introducing the sport and recruiting future athletes.

He was too young at the time to be considered, but by 2018 he was on the radar, and noticed by U.S. star Chris Mazdzer.

“And that’s when I was really doing well at it and I was like older so they knew I’d be a good candidate for the team and they invited me to try it on the ice, I did it a few times and then they invited me to join the team,” recalls Brock.

An invitation, but Brock had to earn one of ten coveted spots on the development team.

“Out of that 700 they whittled it down to 80 and invited 80 children to go to Lake Placid, so there were 80 kids there and then they whittled that down again to a smaller group and then a smaller group, so he did go back a few times,” explains Angela.

Brock says he’ll never forget his first trip to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York.

“It was kind of cool to see the city and then when I got to try it, it was fun to feel the speed of going down the hill and the curves where you bank of real high,” says Brock

“The first time he flew by himself with the other athletes was a little nerve-racking as a mom,” remembers Angela.

Brock though, excelled, and by May 2019, he officially became a member of Team USA.

But that meant a dual life between school and traveling for training during winter months.

Not a problem for this 3.8 GPA student, who’s earned the admiration of his fellow students and teachers at Bay Port High School.

“A lot of people think it is cool, and a lot of people recognize me that I’m the kid who does luge,” says Brock with a smile.

Last winter, the pandemic brought Brock’s luge training to a halt, so he worked out a home, targeting the areas the sport demands.

“You want to focus on lower back strength and shoulder strength for the start of your run, and then it’s a lot about learning the technique and how to do it past that,” explains Brock.

Brock’s Olympic training resumed in December, and tonight he’s back in Lake Placid living out every 14-year old’s dream.

“I’m going down a hill really fast,” says Brock with a chuckle.

He’s also with fellow athletes following their idols on the world’s biggest stage.

“It’ll be exciting to be with the team watching how everybody is doing and cheering on Team USA,” says Brock.

“We’re super proud of him, and no matter what happens, he’s had the experience of a lifetime,” adds Angela.

As Brock sees it though, he’s just getting started on the journey to his ultimate goal.

“Gold medal, in the Olympics,” says Brock with determination in his eyes.

In just a few months, Brock will compete in his first nationals competition in Salt Lake City, the next stop on his golden journey.

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We’ll add all our Small Towns stories to the special section on our website at: https://www.wbay.com/smalltowns

Jeff Alexander talks about Brock Bartol, a local high school freshman competing for a medal in Beijing

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