Olympic memories: Marquette’s Suckow recalls times at Games

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the Winter Olympics continue in Sochi, Russia, The Mining Journal tracked down two former Olympians with ties to Marquette to talk of memories of games past and to find out what they are doing now.

MARQUETTE – Marquette native Wendel Suckow has been avidly watching the Winter Olympics that are taking place in Sochi, Russia.

Suckow, who won the 1993 luge World Championship, competed in three Olympics. He has good memories of each of those games.

“In 1992 in Albertville (France), it was the opening and closing ceremonies,” Suckow, 46, said in an email interview. “In 1994 (in Lillehammer, Norway), it was the fifth-place finish.

“In 1998, it was everything,” Suckow said of the Olympics in Nagano, Japan. “I knew this was my last Olympics. I proposed to my now wife after completing my race.”

His wife, Kim, along with children Gavin, 11, and Garrett, 7, live with Suckow in Sykesville, Md.

“I work for Team Worldwide (global logistics provider) and we are the official cargo carrier for the USA Luge Team,” he said. “Team (Worldwide) was one of the sponsors when I was sliding.”

A 1985 graduate of Marquette Senior High School, Suckow got his luge start in his hometown.

“I started luge in 1984 on a Boy Scout outing to the Marquette luge track,” he said. “That track is gone but the luge club is very active and sliding on Lucy Hill (in Negaunee).

“I encourage kids 11-14 to get out and try this fantastic sport. This is a sport for all ages, but if trying for the Olympics one day, 11-14 is a great age to start.”

Other than his job, Suckow is not involved in the sport any longer.

“Only as a fan,” he said.

Much of Suckow’s family still calls Marquette home.

“My parents (Wendel and Jean), brothers (Chuck and Duane) and sister (Shelly) still live in Marquette,” he said. “My other sister (Tammy) lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

“I always love coming back to Marquette. … But I don’t get back as often as I would like. I always love the Vierling and Lagnaippe and am saddened at the closing of Bonanza. I can track my life with memories of birthdays and special meals there.

“Special shout out to Blackrocks Brewing. Love the beer you’re producing.”

As today’s youngsters view the action from Sochi, he has a message for them.

“The Olympics seem so far away for kids sitting at home watching but it starts with taking a little time from parents to take them to luge, ski jumping, alpine or cross-country skiing,” Suckow said. “One run was all it took to capture me and that thrill never ended.

“Take a chance and dare to dream.”

Coming Thursday: Catching up with Chris Thorpe, a 1988 MSHS graduate, who won two Olympic medals in luge doubles.