Luge: Wikis

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Luge
Queenstown Luge.jpg
A recreational luge track in Queenstown, New Zealand
Highest governing body Fédération Internationale de Luge de Course
Characteristics
Team members Teams of 1 or 2
Mixed gender Yes
Venue Luge tracks
Olympic 1964

Luge (pronounced /ˈluːʒ/) is a small one- or two-person sled on which one sleds supine (face up) and feet-first. Steering is done by flexing the sled's runners with the calf of each leg or exerting opposite shoulder pressure to the seat. Lugers can reach speeds of 140 km per hour, and the Guinness world record is held by Tony Benshoof of the United States at a speed of 139.9 km per hour. Luge is also the name of the sport which involves racing with such sleds. It is a competition in which these sleds race against a timer. The first recorded use of the term is 1905, from the Savoy/Swiss dialect of French "luge" meaning "small coasting sled", and is possibly from a Gaulish word with the same root as English sled.[1]

Contents

History

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 1783 in Sweden. 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.

Artificial tracks

For more information, please see List of bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton tracks.

Artificial 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, St. Moritz). Tracks tend to be very smooth.

The athletes ride in an non-aerodynamic and upward position on the sled, keep their heads low to minimize air resistance. The sled is steered mainly with the feet by applying pressure on the runners. It takes a precise mix of shifting body weight, applying pressure with feet and rolling the shoulders. There are also handles for minor adjustments. They race at speeds averaging 120–160 km/h (75-100 mph) around high banked curves while experiencing a centrifugal pull of up to 7G. 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 further down the track. Artificial track luge is the fastest and most agile sledding sport.

Natural track luge

Please see List of natural luge tracks.

Natural tracks are adapted from existing mountain roads and paths. Artificially banked curves are not permitted. The track's surface must be horizontal. They are naturally iced. The use of artificial refrigeration is forbidden. 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.

Most of the tracks are situated in Austria and Italy, with others in Germany, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Canada, and the United States. The Upper Peninsula Luge Club in Negaunee, MI is home to one of only five lighted natural track luge runs in the world, and the only natural track in the United States. The half-mile track features 29 curves along its 88-meter vertical drop. The hill hosts international luge events and offers luge instruction to the public during the winter months. World championships have been held since 1979 while European championships have been held since 1970.

Events

  • Singles Luge – Men/Women
  • Doubles Luge – Mixed
  • Team Luge
  • Challenge Cup

In a team competition one man, one woman and a doubles form a team. Such teams may consist of athletes of two different nations when each nation cannot field a full team. There is also a relay competition which is still being developed.

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 is dominated by German representatives.

The following persons have been president of the FIL:

  • Bert Isatitsch, Austria (1957–1994)
  • Josef Fendt, Germany (1994–current)

Champions

Risks

As with many extreme sports, luging is not without its risks. The most recent fatality was Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili (Georgian: ნოდარ ქუმარიტაშვილი) who suffered a fatal crash during a training run for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada [2]. Hours after the incident, 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.[3] Kumaritashvili was the fourth athlete to die while in preparation for a Winter Olympics competition, following speed skier Nicolas Bochatay, 27, who died while preparing for the Albertville 1992 games, British luger Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski and skier Ross Milne, 19, who both died in the run up to the Innsbruck 1964 games.

See also

References

External links

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