It takes dedication to get to the Olympics, Massena native says

Mel Busler continues his conversation with Olympic luge competitor Jonny Gustafson, a native of Massena.
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 8:49 AM EST
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MASSENA, New York (WWNY) - The sport of luge has given Jonny Gustafson a chance to travel the world, something he doesn’t take for granted.

He’s participating in that sport at the Winter Olympics next month.

“In a simple word, I would say I’m spoiled,” he said. “This has been incredible. Since I was in high school, I’ve been traveling more and more each year, to the point when I was on the senior team at 20 where I was fully traveling.

“Even before that, on the junior world circuit that we have, I was fully traveling all winter then, so for the past six to eight years, gone all winter -- going, at the start, new places, as we get rolling, places we’ve been before, favorite spots there -- things to do and things to see. It’s incredible. I’m lucky to be the position I’m in. Spoiled and lucky, honestly.”

It’s an opportunity that the sport of luge has given him that did take sacrifice on his part and that of his family.

“There was for sure sacrifices,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, I was gone for most of the school year. Massena Central was huge with working with me, kind of bent around what I needed. “You know, staying after school, before and after. When I left for the season, bringing work with me while I was there, kind of teaching myself and then coming back and having all the teachers catch me up on everything -- that was incredible. They worked with me so well and then friends constantly staying in contact, still be able to hang out while I’m home, just gaming with all my friends and everything, it made it work. “I feel none of it was me, it was just all these people in my life were really just bending over backwards to really help me. It’s just incredible.”

Jonny’s family has been a big part of his success. His father, Eric, has a simple template to follow for others in a similar position.

“It’s an incredible ride as a family,” he said. “We’ve been lucky enough to go see him race, some unbelievable places in the world. But at the end of the day, he was the one that drove the process, so I guess my advice would be to just let him enjoy the sport that they’re doing and support them as much as you can. That’s what we did with Jonny. It sure turned out well.”

As far as what would be a successful Olympics for Jonny Gustafson, just do the best he can.

“I really just want to have four runs that I can be happy with and where it puts me is where it puts me,” he said. “I’ll be happy with that.”

From Massena to the Beijing Olympics, it’s a great success story authored by Jonny Gustafson.

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