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Gateway to the Summer Games - Spotlight Sports Griffin Publishing Group

The luge is a type of small sled on which one or two persons, lying face up, slide feet first down snowy hillsides or down steeply banked, curving, iced chutes similar to those used in bobsledding. Shifting weight, pulling straps attached to the runners, or using the feet accomplishes steering.

The first international race took place in 1883 with 21 competitors from seven nations, including the United States. The race was organized by hotels in the Swiss spa of Davos and took place over the 4-kilometer road from St. Wolfgang to Klosters. With the development of a more flexible sled came the "kunstbahn," or artificial track, which provided luge enthusiasts with a more challenging course.

The first World Championships in the sport were held in 1955 in Oslo, Norway, with 52 competitors from eight nations. Two years later the lugers broke away from the FIBT, the bobsled and toboggan federation, to form their own Federation Internationale de Luge de Course (FIL). In 1961 at the International Olympic Committee meetings in Athens, three luge events -- men's singles, doubles and women's singles -- were added to the 1964 Olympic program.

Interesting Facts
  • It is thought that the Vikings in 800 A.D. were the first users of sleds.
  • Luge was a latecomer to Winter Olympics, not appearing until 1964 when it replaced skeleton sledding.
  • The luge travels at speeds exceeding 60 mph.
  • Mark Grimmette and three other Americans made Olympic luge history at the 1998 Nagano Games. The United States captured the silver and bronze medals in the doubles event -- the first medals for American luge sliders after 34 years of futility.
To Learn More About Luge
  • The Federation de Luge de Course has developed an extensive Web site about the sport which is available in German or English.
  • Check out this comprehensive site which covers the history, interesting facts and anything else you need to know about luge racing.
  • Visit the Official Salt Lake City Winter Olympics Web site to get all the facts, latest scores and list of luge events.
  • This fun-filled site about the dry side of luge land luge covers the wild side of the street sport.
  • The United States Luge Association contains a digital photographic gallery, US team store, history, news, and maps and statistics for luge tracks worldwide.
Other Winter Olympic Sports

Alpine Skiing


Figure Skating

Ice Hockey


Ski Jumping

Speed Skating


General Sports Links
Olympians will compete in dozens of sports this winter. Even though Gateway to the Winter Games can't feature them all, you can learn about each and every one by visiting the sites listed below.

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