Close Encounters

REINER RIEDLER / ANZENBERGER for TIME

SLIDE MEN Lugers Martin, at left, and Grimmette share more than just a sled; Grimmette doubles as his teammate's landlord

It's 30 below near the top of mount Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid, New York, and U.S. lugers Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin are wearing skintight racing suits, perched atop a 60-cm-wide sled. Martin sits behind Grimmette, legs straddling his teammate. "I've got no traction on my feet," yells Martin. Grimmette, like a longtime nanny, instantly wipes them down with his gloves. The pair, teammates for 10 years, alternate deep breaths. "All right, be aggressive," says Grimmette. "Yup," replies Martin. With that, the U.S.'s best-ever Olympic luge team shoots from the starting block. Now supine on the sled, they hit speeds...

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