Luge

Last updated
Luge
Depart d'un lugeur.jpg
Departing German luger at the 2010 Olympics
Highest governing body Fédération Internationale de Luge de Course
First played1870s
Characteristics
ContactNo
Team membersTeams of 1 or 2
Mixed gender Yes, but usually in separate competitions
TypeWinter sport, Time trial
EquipmentSled, helmet, suit, visor, gloves, finger spikes, booties
Venue Luge tracks
Presence
Olympic Part of Winter Olympic program in 1964 to 2026

A luge /lʒ/ is a small one- or two-person sled on which one sleds supine (face up) and feet-first. A luger steers by using their calf muscles to flex the sled's runners or by exerting opposite shoulder pressure to the seat. Racing sleds weigh 21–25 kg (46–55 lb) for singles and 25–30 kg (55–66 lb) for doubles. [1] Luge is also the name of an Olympic sport.

Contents

Lugers can reach speeds of 140 km/h (87 mph). Austrian Manuel Pfister reached a top speed of 154 km/h (96 mph) on a track in Whistler, Canada, prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics. [2] Lugers compete against a timer in one of the most precisely timed sports in the world—to one one-thousandth of a second on artificial tracks.

The first recorded use of the term "luge" dates to 1905 and derives from the Savoy/Swiss dialect of the French word luge, meaning "small coasting sled." [3] [4]

History

Luge sled, with steel runners removed. Luge sled.jpg
Luge sled, with steel runners removed.
A young luger on the start ramp at the Utah Olympic track. Young luger.jpg
A young luger on the start ramp at the Utah Olympic track.

The very practical use of sleds is ancient and widespread. The first recorded sled races took place in Norway sometime during the 15th century. [5]

The sport of luge, like the skeleton and the bobsleigh, originated in the health-spa town of St Moritz, Switzerland, in the mid-to-late 19th century, through the endeavours of hotel entrepreneur Caspar Badrutt. Badrutt successfully sold the idea of winter resorting, as well as rooms with food, drink, and activities. His more adventurous English guests began adapting delivery boys' sleds for recreation, which led to collisions with pedestrians as they sped down the lanes and alleys of the village.

The first organized meeting of the sport took place in 1883 in Switzerland. [6] In 1913, the Internationale Schlittensportverband or International Sled Sports Federation was founded in Dresden, Germany. This body governed the sport until 1935, when it was incorporated in the Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing (FIBT, International Bobsleigh and Tobogganing Federation). After it had been decided that luge would replace the sport of skeleton at the Olympic Games, the first World Championships in the sport were held in 1955 in Oslo (Norway). In 1957, the Fédération Internationale de Luge de Course (FIL, International Luge Federation) was founded. Luge events were first included in the Olympic Winter Games in 1964.

Americans were slow to adopt the sport of luge. The first luge run in North America was built at Lolo Hot Springs, Montana, in 1965. [7] [8] Although the United States competed in every Olympic luge event from 1964 through 1976, it was not until 1979 that the United States Luge Association was founded. The first artificial American track was completed in that year for use in the 1980 XIII Winter Olympic Games at Lake Placid, New York. [5] Since that time the United States luge program has greatly improved. A second artificial track was constructed near Park City, Utah, for the 2002 XIX Olympic Winter Games at Salt Lake City.

Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless, both of Canada, became the first all-female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race in luge in 2019. [9]

Artificial tracks

German luger Thomas Kohler in 1964 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-C0223-0007-003, Friedrichroda, Deutsche Meisterschaften, Rennrodeln.jpg
German luger Thomas Köhler in 1964
Matt Mortensen (top) and Preston Griffall (bottom) are clocked at 80 miles per hour on a run at Sanki Sliding Centre in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. Mortensen and Griffall.jpg
Matt Mortensen (top) and Preston Griffall (bottom) are clocked at 80 miles per hour on a run at Sanki Sliding Centre in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
Curves 11 and 12 on the Utah Olympic track near Park City, Utah. Utah Olympic track.jpg
Curves 11 and 12 on the Utah Olympic track near Park City, Utah.

Artificial luge tracks have specially designed and constructed banked curves plus walled-in straights. Most tracks are artificially refrigerated, but artificial tracks without artificial cooling also exist (for example, in St. Moritz). Tracks tend to be very smooth. [4]

The athletes ride in a flat, aerodynamic position on the sled, keeping their heads low to minimize air resistance. They steer the sled mainly with their calves by applying pressure on the runners—right calf to turn left, left calf to turn right. It takes a precise mix of shifting body weight, applying pressure with calves and rolling the shoulders. There are also handles for minor adjustments. A successful luger maintains complete concentration and relaxation on the sled while traveling at high speeds. Most lugers "visualize" the course in their minds before sliding.[ citation needed ] Fastest times result from following the perfect "line" down the track. Any slight error, such as brush against the wall, costs time. Track conditions are also important. Softer ice tends to slow speeds, while harder ice tends to lead to faster times. Lugers race at speeds averaging 120–145 km/h (75–90 mph) around high banked curves while experiencing a centripetal acceleration of up to 5g. Men's Singles have their start locations near where the bobsled and skeleton competitors start at most tracks, while both the Doubles and Women's Singles competition have their starthouse located farther down the track. Artificial track luge is the fastest and most agile sledding sport. [4]

Natural track luge

Natural tracks are adapted from existing mountain roads and paths. Artificially banked curves are not permitted. [10] The track's surface should be horizontal. They are naturally iced. Tracks can get rough from the braking and steering action. Athletes use a steering rein and drag their hands and use their legs in order to drive around the tight flat corners. Braking is often required in front of curves and is accomplished by the use of spikes built on the bottom of the shoes. [4]

Most of the tracks are situated in Austria and Italy, with others in Germany, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Canada, Switzerland, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Turkey, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Bulgaria, Romania, New Zealand and the United States. The Upper Peninsula Luge Club [11] in Negaunee, Michigan, is home to one of only five lighted natural track luge runs in the world, and the only natural track in the United States. [12] The over 800 meter (half-mile) track features 29 curves along its 88-meter (289 ft) vertical drop. The club hosts international luge events and offers luge instruction to the public during the winter months. [4]

World championships have been held since 1979 while European championships have been held since 1970.

Events

There are five luge disciplines.

These are further broken into several age classes - multiple youth and junior classes that cover the range of age 7–20, and general class (ages 21 and older). [1] Older competitors may enjoy the sport in masters (age 30–50), and senior masters (age 51+) classes. [13] In a team relay competition, one man, one woman, and a doubles pair form a team. A touchpad at the bottom of the run is touched by a competitor signaling a teammate at the top of the run to start. [4]

Rules and procedures for races are very precise:

Training

The sport of luge requires an athlete to balance mental and physical fitness. Physically, a luger must have strong neck, upper body, abdominal, and thigh muscles. Athletes also use Wind Tunnels to train [14] Strength training is essential to withstand the extreme G-forces of tight turns at high speeds. Since lugers have very little protection other than a visor and helmet, they must be able to endure the physical pounding administered by the track when mistakes are made.

Risks

As with many extreme sports, luging has risks. Though most injuries involve bumps, bruises, broken bones and concussions, fatalities do occasionally occur. Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili suffered a fatal crash during his final practice run for the 2010 Winter Olympics on the Whistler Sliding Centre in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. [15] Hours later, the International Luge Federation concluded that the accident was caused by a steering error and not a track error; nevertheless, changes to the track were made before the re-opening. [16] Kumaritashvili was the fourth athlete to die while in preparation for a Winter Olympics competition, following speed skier Nicolas Bochatay, aged 27, who died while preparing for the Albertville 1992 games; and British luger Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypecki and skier Ross Milne, aged 19, who both died in the run-up to the Innsbruck 1964 games. [14]

Governing body

The sport of luge is governed by the FIL, Fédération International de Luge de Course. The FIL is located in Berchtesgaden, Germany, and includes 53 member nations. [17] It is traditionally dominated by German representatives, however.

The following persons have been president of the FIL:

Olympic medal table

Georg Hackl of Germany is the most successful Olympic luger, having won five medals, of which three are gold medals attained in three consecutive Olympics. Rodel-Weltcup-2005-Oberhof-Hackl.jpg
Georg Hackl of Germany is the most successful Olympic luger, having won five medals, of which three are gold medals attained in three consecutive Olympics.
Armin Zoggeler is an Italian luger, and is the first - and so far the only - athlete to have won one medal in six consecutive Olympics. Rodel-Weltcup-2005-Oberhof-Zoeggeler cropped.jpg
Armin Zöggeler is an Italian luger, and is the first - and so far the only - athlete to have won one medal in six consecutive Olympics.
German lugers Felix Loch (center) and David Moller (left) occupied the first and second places, respectively, of the men's singles at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Rodel-WM2008-Herren-Sieger2.jpg
German lugers Felix Loch (center) and David Möller (left) occupied the first and second places, respectively, of the men's singles at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Spectators at the Whistler Sliding Centre watching lugers pass the point on the track where Kumaritashvili crashed and died. NodarKumaritashvili-AccidentLocation-WhistlerSlidingCentre-20100215.jpg
Spectators at the Whistler Sliding Centre watching lugers pass the point on the track where Kumaritashvili crashed and died.

Men's singles

up to: 2014

RankNationGoldSilverBronzeTotal
1Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 107623
2Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 3238
3Flag of Austria.svg  Austria 1225
4Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 0325
5Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia 0011
Totals (5 nations)14141442

Doubles

up to: 2014

RankNationGoldSilverBronzeTotal
1Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 104620
2Flag of Austria.svg  Austria 3328
3Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 2237
4Flag of the United States.svg  United States 0224
5Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia 0112
6Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 0101
Totals (6 nations)15131442

Women's singles

up to: 2014

RankNationGoldSilverBronzeTotal
1Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 1012931
2Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 2002
3Flag of Austria.svg  Austria 1236
4Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 1012
5Flag of the United States.svg  United States 0011
Totals (5 nations)14141442

Team relay

up to: 2014

RankNationGoldSilverBronzeTotal
1Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 1001
2Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 0101
3Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia 0011
Totals (3 nations)1113

Total Olympic ranking

up to: 2014

RankNationGoldSilverBronzeTotal
1Flag of Germany.svg  Germany [a] 31232175
2Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 74617
3Flag of Austria.svg  Austria 57719
4Flag of Russia.svg  Russia [b] 1539
5Flag of the United States.svg  United States 0235
6Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia 0134
Totals (6 nations)444243129

Fatal accidents

CompetitorYearTrackRaceEvent
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski 1964 Flag of Austria.svg Innsbruck Training run 1964 Winter Olympics
Flag of Poland.svg Stanisław Paczka 1969 Flag of Germany.svg Königssee First run FIL World Luge Championships 1969
Flag of Georgia.svg Nodar Kumaritashvili 2010 Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Whistler Training run 2010 Winter Olympics

See also

Related Research Articles

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Skeleton (sport) winter sliding sport

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Sledding

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Gerda Weissensteiner OMRI is an Italian luger and bobsleigh pilot who competed from the late 1980s to 2006. Competing in six Winter Olympics, she won the gold medal in the women's singles luge event at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, and together with Jennifer Isacco she won the bronze in Turin in the two-woman bobsleigh at the 2006 Winter Olympics. She was the first Italian sportsperson to win Olympic medals in two disciplines.

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International Luge Federation International luge governing body

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Olympic Sliding Centre Innsbruck sports venue

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The luge competition events of the 2010 Winter Olympics were held between 13 and 17 February 2010 at the Whistler Sliding Centre in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.

The men's luge at the 2010 Winter Olympics took place on 13–14 February 2010 at the Whistler Sliding Centre in Whistler, British Columbia. Germany's Felix Loch was the two-time defending world champion and won the gold medal with the fastest time in each of the four runs. The test event that took place at the venue was won by Germany's David Möller, who would win the silver medal in this event. Italy's Armin Zöggeler was the two-time defending Olympic champion and won a bronze medal in this event. The last World Cup event prior to the 2010 games took place in Cesana, Italy on 30 January 2010 and was won by Zöggeler, who also won the overall World Cup title.

Luge at the 2010 Winter Olympics – Womens singles

The women's luge at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada took place on 15–16 February at the Whistler Sliding Centre in Whistler, British Columbia. Germany's Sylke Otto was the two-time defending Olympic champion. Otto retired midway through the 2006-07 season in January 2007 to pregnancy and after suffering a crash at the track in Königssee, Germany. Erin Hamlin of the United States was the defending world champion. The test event that took place at the venue was won by Germany's Natalie Geisenberger. The last World Cup event prior to the 2010 games took place in Cesana, Italy on 31 January 2010 and was won by Geisenberger. Geisenberger's teammate Tatjana Hüfner, the defending Olympic bronze medalist, won the overall World Cup for 2009-10 season in women's singles.

The doubles luge event at the 2010 Winter Olympics was held on 17 February at the Whistler Sliding Centre in Whistler, British Columbia. Twenty teams participated. Austrian brothers Andreas and Wolfgang Linger, the defending Olympic and European champions,. won the gold medal. The silver medal was also won by a pair of brothers, Andris and Juris Šics of Latvia. Germans Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch clinched the bronze medal after edging out Italians Christian Oberstolz and Patrick Gruber, who were in third place after the first run.

Nodar Kumaritashvili Georgian luge athlete

Nodar Kumaritashvili was a Georgian luge athlete who suffered a fatal crash during a training run for the 2010 Winter Olympics competition in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, on the day of the opening ceremony. He became the fourth athlete to die during preparations for a Winter Olympics, and the seventh athlete to die in either a Summer or Winter Olympic Games.

References

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  15. "Olympic Luger Dies on Track Where Speed Caused Concern".
  16. "Joint VANOC/FIL statement". Vancouver2010.com. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
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