Luge Factsheets

Olympic History:          Sledding on snow down hills has been done since the 16th century.  But sledding sport can be traced to the mid-19th century when British tourists starting sledding on the snowbound roads of the Alps.  The original form of the sport was the skeleton sleds that were used on the Cresta Run at St. Moritz.  Skeleton was contested at the Olympics in 1928 and 1948, both times when the Winter Games were contested at St. Moritz, and was added to the Olympic Winter program for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, but the sport is governed now by the bobsled federation, the Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et Tobogganing (FIBT).

Luge spread to Switzerland in the 1890s as a variant of the skeleton race.  The first recorded competitions took place in 1890 at the Innsbruck-based Academic Alpine Club.  The Internationaler Schlittensportverband (International Sled Sport Federation) was formed in 1913 and the first European Championships were held in 1914 at Reichenfeld, Austria.

At the IOC meeting in Athens in 1954, luge tobogganing was recognized as an official Olympic sport but luge events were not contested in the Olympics until 1964.  The first world luge championships were contested in Oslo in 1955.  It was planned to introduce the sport at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games but the Squaw Valley organizers had decided not to build a bob run and not to hold bobsled events, and they likewise opposed building a luge run for the participation of only a few countries.  Thus the Olympic début was delayed until 1964.  Since that time luge has been contested at all Olympic Winter Games, with a singles and doubles event for men, and a singles event for women.  Technically, it could be considered that there is a men’s event, a women’s event, and a mixed event, since the doubles are open to mixed pairs.  However, no mixed pair has ever competed internationally at the Olympics or World Championships. In 2014 at Sochi, a team relay event consisting of two men and two women will be contested. This has been a World Championship event since 1989 when it was originally contested with three men and three women, but that was changed to teams of four in 1999.

In 1935, the International Schlittensportverband, later renamed the Internationaler Rodelverband (International Luge Federation), joined the bobsleigh federation, the FIBT, as the “Section de Luge.”  Prior to 1957, luge was governed by the FIBT.  In that year, the Fédération Internationale de Luge de Course (FIL) separated from the FIBT and was formed with 13 founding nations.  The FIL currently has 53 affiliated member nations, all of which are recognized by the IOC.  This makes it the second smallest International Federation, after curling, in terms of affiliated national federations.

The 53 member federations of the FIL are as follows: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Netherlands Antilles, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tonga, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, US Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.