After two heartbreaks, third time’s the charm for luging soldier

(Photo: US Army, Brett West)


Third time’s the charm, right?

That’s something New York Army National Guard Sgt. Emily Sweeney knows all too well. She made the U.S. Olympic luge team this year after missing out twice before – including a tough loss to her sister.

Sweeney, 24, of Suffield, Connecticut, is a military police soldier and a member of the Army World Class Athlete program. She’ll be competing at Pyeongchang in the women’s singles competition.

Luge is something that’s been ingrained in Sweeney since she was 10 – and it runs in the family, too. Her sister, Megan, was also a luger who just barely beat out Emily for the last spot on the 2010 Olympic team in Vancouver. Despite her disappointment, Emily was an alternate and still cheered on her sister. The experience also inspired her to make a decision – joining the Army National Guard.

“I thought it was a great avenue of opportunity,” Emily told Army News Service. “I knew I wanted to continue being an athlete, but I didn’t want to only be an athlete. I wanted something else to pursue.”

After graduating with honors from the Army’s military police school, she began her military career but continued training for the next big test – the 2014 Sochi Olympic trials. Sadly, she missed out on that bid, too – an outcome that led her to walk away from the sport for a little while.

It wasn’t until she joined the Army’s Warrior Leader Course (now known as the Basic Leader Course) to become a noncommissioned officer that she got back into luge. While at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in the spring of 2014, she realized she’d lost so much weight and muscle mass from not exercising that she failed her Army physical fitness test.

Thankfully, the WLC gave her a workout schedule to follow so she would pass, and that got her back into the mode of training – yet again – to reach her dream of going to the Olympics. She switched up some of her previous routines, and next thing you know, she was at the top of her game again, just in time for the 2017 Olympic trials.

That hard work and determination finally paid off. Emily Sweeney currently ranks 8th in the International Luge Federation women’s singles, and she made the Olympic team!

She, veteran luge competitor Sgt. Matt Mortensen and first-time Olympian Sgt. Taylor Morris have created the trifecta of New York Army National Guard soldiers competing in luge at Pyeongchang. Good luck to all three!

By Katie Lange, Defense Media Activity