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OLYMPIC SOLIDARITY 58OLYMPIC REVIEW BROTHERSINARMS The Latvian siblings Andris and Juris Sics are the youngest luge duo in the world's top twenty pairs and, with the help of Olympic Solidarity, are aiming for a medal at the Vancouver Games, writes Ilze Ake- Viksne: In an event where an almost telepathic understanding is needed to compete at the very top level, it is no surprise that many of the top pairings in the luge doubles are siblings. After finishing seventh in Turin three years ago, the Sics brothers from Latvia, who, as kids, used to jump the fence to lark about on their local track, have set their sights on a podium place in Vancouver. How did you discover the luge track? Andris: As children we lived near the Sigulda luge track, which attracted our attention from early on. At first it was just a place for us to play around. We used to try to conquer the track using different sliding methods until one day the track guard caught us and put us in the hands of a qualified coach. Thus our early naughtiness grew into a serious training process that has now lasted over 15 years and made luge our life. At the age of sixteen we went to the Murjani Sports High School and specialised in the luge. Juris: This is just our fifth season participating in the doubles competition. Before our Olympic debut inTurin where we finished in seventh place, we had ridden together just for one season. Why did you decide to ride a doubles luge? Andris: We always wanted to ride together. Our proportions are ideal for the doubles luge. We used to say that we were born for the sled! Juris' legs are shorter and his back is longer – it perfectly fits in the sled's body so he lies underneath. I have very long legs, but a shorter back. It is an ideal combination for the doubles. Juris: We understand each other almost telepathically – one of the preconditions for a good run in the doubles luge. Doubles is a tricky event requiring clever teamwork and each one of us has to assume responsibility for the other team member. The singles sled is lower and more stable: in the doubles the two sliders have to act as one single unit. Andris: Doubles luge is a sport suited to brothers. Currently there are the Linger brothers and the Schiegl cousins from Austria, the Broz brothers from the Czech Republic, the Moffats from Canada, and us. What are your goals? Andris: After Turin we began to think about Vancouver immediately. Next year's Games are our goal, and the whole training programme is dedicated to it. We are convinced that we have the ability to be the best in the world. As we are the youngest among the top double-seater sliders in the world, we think we are moving up in terms of physical and technical development. Of course, much depends on the sled, which is our main tool. It plays a crucial role in our sport, where even one- thousandth of a second matters. Olympic Solidarity has awarded you a Scholarship to prepare for the Vancouver Games. How do you use it? Juris: It enables us to prepare for the Games in a much better manner which is very important to us. Andris: The Scholarships provide us with regular medical and scientific assistance and control, and it covers our costs during the training sessions and competitions. Thanks to the Olympic Scholarship we can afford to feel more at home, even being far away from home. Do you have regular supporters or a fan club? Andris: We have our biggest fan – our Granny. That is why all our trophies are kept in her home. She has a calendar with all our competition dates and venues marked. She follows all our events closely, even though she will soon be 90. ANDRIS & JURIS SICS

OLYMPIC REVIEW59