Williamsburg artist helps luge athletes gear up for Sochi 2014.
Let’s face it, most of us don’t see much luge outside of the Winter Olympics. But that’s what will make watching the games' most dangerous sport more fun next month as competition gets underway in Sochi. And Team USA’s supine sliders will face their nearly 30-story descent down the mile-long frozen track at speeds of up to 95 mph looking sharp, thanks in part to Williamsburg artist Jon Wooten, 43.
Team helmet artist to USA Luge since 2006, Wooten will paint helmets for the team’s 15 athletes before they travel to Russia. “These athletes are not professionals,” says Wooten, who is art director for Newport News-based corporate event planning firm Big Top Entertainment and who offers his services to the team gratis. “They don’t have a lot and they’re working off sponsorships and donations. This is just our part.”
It takes Wooten about six hours to paint each helmet shell. Friend and automotive painter Dan DiSalvo clear coats the helmet shells, which are then sent to USA Luge headquarters in Lake Placid for inspection and finishing. Has Wooten’s longtime support of USA Luge induced him to take up the sport? “Oh, no!” he laughs. The first time he tried luge he says he “hit the wall so hard it knocked the second hand off my watch,” (at a slow 35 mph). Says Wooten, “You gotta love the speed.” We agree.