With the Winter Olympics starting on Feb. 9, including four Montanans competing, we talked to a man about Montana's historic ties to the sport of luge.
Jim Murray grew up in Avon, near Helena, and was introduced to the sport of luge by an Army captain while attending the University of Montana.
He got his start training on a makeshift track near Lolo Hot Springs, south of Missoula.
"The Lolo track wasn't really a track, we kind of went down, around curves, crashed a lot," Murray says. "The timing system they had was walkie talkies. 'All right, set, go!' And the guy on the bottom would hit his button."
Murray went on to compete in four Olympics for the United States in the 1960s and '70s, including the 1968 games in Grenoble, France.
After the Olympics, Murray served in Vietnam as an artillery man. Though he never medaled, he was one of the most successful American lugiers in the sport's history. After competition, he became the U.S. luge team manager. In 1980, he was front and center to witness one of the greatest upsets in the history of sports when the U.S. men's hockey team went up against the Soviet Union in the semifinal hockey match.
"That was my fourth Olympics," he says. "I had seen them get thumped every time. Not just thumped, but crammed. And you're standing around and thinking 'these guys are competing with the pros, and I thought they will lose tonight for sure.'"
But the United States won in a game dubbed the "Miracle on Ice." Murray sat on the blue line and saw history.
Today, he's still active in the luge and winter sports community. He now lives with his family in North Carolina.