Luge is the French word for “sledge” and, like bobsleigh, it was developed as a sport in
Switzerland. Its roots go back to the 16th century, but it was not until 300 years later that the first
luge tracks were built by Swiss hotel owners to cater for thrill- seeking tourists.
The first international race course was held in Davos in 1883,with competitors racing along an
icy 4km road between Davos and the village of Klosters.
Luge is one of the oldest winter sports. It involves competitors lying on their backs on a tiny sled
with their feet stretched out in front of them, and racing down an icy track at speeds in the range
of 140 km/h, without brakes. As well as the singles, there is a pairs event, with the larger of the
two team members lying on top for better aerodynamics.
It was not until 1955 that the first World Championship was organised, i.e. 41 years after the first
European Championships. Nine years later, in 1964, luge made its Olympic debut, at the
Innsbruck Games (Austria), with a mixed event, a men’s event and a women’s event. The
programme has not changed since then. Since 1976, this sport has taken place on the same track
The discipline was dominated by the East Germans, who won 15 of the 21 gold medals available
between 1964 and 1988. One of the undisputed masters of luge is a German: Georg Hackl, who
won gold three times consecutively, in 1994 in Lillehammer, 1998 in Nagano and 2002 in
Salt Lake City.
The best Russian sportsmen in Luge is Albert Demchenko, who will
take place in Sochi Games. It's his 7-th Olimpic Games.