A holiday nearly a decade ago changed the life of Jack Leslie. The recent old boy of Christchurch Boys’ High School was invited by family friends to relax at the Naseby lodge, a scenic spot south of the Garden City.
Leslie is restless and doesn’t like being idle. Thank goodness the only natural luge track in the Southern Hemisphere was only a matter of minutes away. Leslie frequented the track and became addicted to the high-octane sport. Today he is an international champion.
New Zealand Olympic Luge Association president Geoff Balme commented recently on Leslie’s success in Europe.
“Jack Leslie has won New Zealand’s first ever medal in an international luge competition winning the 2nd Natural Track Junior World Cup event of the Northern Hemisphere season at Seiseralm in Italy. This betters New Zealand’s previous best result which was achieved by two-time Olympian (1998 and 2002) Angela Paul who finished 8th in the 1995 Artificial Track Junior World Championships at Lake Placid in the USA.”
Leslie also won a subsequent pursuit (knockout) race beating 31 opponents.
Leslie has enjoyed the benefit of good fortune. Four years ago he met an inspiring individual.
“The world number one Patrick Pigneter come to New Zealand and coached us. After his time here he talked to the International Luge federation (FIL) and said I had great potential. The FIL decided to send me to Europe to train and I have been a frequent visitor since.”
Leslie has been competing in junior and senior races in Europe. He has finished among the top-15 in the world in the senior category which has guaranteed strong financial support.
“I am very lucky to have great support from the FIL and New Zealand luge. I raise a bit of money, but most of my expenses are covered.”
Leslie is coached by Mattio Clara. Clara’s impact has been immense.
“Florian is a sled genius I think he knows more than his own trainers. He could have been a world champion, but he chooses to coach and I am very grateful for that.”
Leslie will spend most of 2016 in Europe and hopes to make a career out of the Olympic sport.
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