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Luge on artificial track, double and single seater, on an Olympia stamp pad of the GDR for the 1988 Winter Olympics
Luge on a natural track Regensburger-Holzknecht (AUT)

Luge is a winter sport. It emerged from sledding as a leisure activity and describes the competitive practice of sledding . A distinction is made between luge on artificial track (artificial track tobogganing - luge at the Olympic Games ) and luge on natural track ( natural track toboggan world championship ).


In the 17th century in Russia , especially in the area around today's Saint Petersburg and in Moscow later in this country, so-called “Russian mountains” or “slide mountains” emerged. In winter temperatures, wooden ramps were covered with snow and ice so that these artificial "mountains" could be slid down on a layer of ice several centimeters thick. In order to keep the icing up, it was doused with freezing water every day. Initially, blocks of ice were used as “sledges”, on which a seat made of wood and wool was attached for the driver. The railways were especially popular among the wealthier population and aristocrats and were sometimes lavishly designed, decorated and planted with trees. It can often be read that Napoleon's soldiers got to know the invention , which became known under the French name Montagnes Russes, during the Russian campaign and brought it with them to Western Europe, especially to France . There are reports, however, that a Russian mountain was in operation in the Quartier des Ternes in Paris as early as 1804 . Due to frequent accidents, it was shut down.

Russian troops brought them to Paris again in 1813, from where they spread for a certain time in German-speaking countries. One now rode on toboggans without ice, which slid on rails, "... which at the end of the path often formed an upright loop, which, held by centrifugal force, one drove through with the head hanging down".

Sledging became popular in the early 19th century. Initially, wooden sleds such as the Davos sledge or the Grindelwald sledge were used. The winter sports luge and bobsleigh developed from this . The first toboggan race was in Davos in 1883 . In 1888 an Englishman developed the bobsleigh by connecting two sledges one behind the other with a board. At that time, the races were held exclusively on natural toboggan runs , i.e. on forest paths that were primarily designed to transport wood.

In 1910 the first toboggan race took place on an artificial track. The separation into two independent sports took place in 1964, when the races on the artificial track were included in the Olympic program. As a result, the European and World Championships were only held on these tracks until the first European Luge Championships on natural track EM took place in 1970 .

Up until the beginning of the 20th century, toboggan races were only driven on snow-covered forest paths, some of which had one to two meter high walls of snow on the outside of the curve. Starting in 1910, lanes were created especially for tobogganing and the excessive curves were frozen to make them passable for longer. The first artificial tracks were created. Since only a few such railways were available, one mostly continued to drive on forest roads that had no excessive curves. These natural tracks had a flat track sole. Until the 1960s, there was no formal separation between artificial and natural tobogganing and the athletes were not specialized. The same toboggans were used for both types of track and the competition regulations did not differ. Because of the small number of artificial tracks, most of the competitions took place on natural tracks; artificial tracks were not built until the 1950s. After the Olympic premiere in 1964, the development of artificial and natural tobogganing separated. All world and European championships held up to that point were subsequently counted as artificial track competitions, regardless of whether they were actually held on artificial track or, as is usually the case, on natural track. In 1966, the International Luge Federation (FIL) set up its own natural track commission that dealt exclusively with this sport. Separate competitions were held for natural track tobogganing, which is very popular in the Alpine countries. From 1967 there was the European Cup , in 1970 the first European Championship was held in Kapfenberg and in 1979 the first World Championship was held in Inzing . There has been a World Cup since 1992 , which is held in six races per season as in the international championships in the singles of men and women as well as in a doubles. There is also the Intercontinental Cup, which is mainly intended to promote the young. At world and European championships there is also a team competition with one singles for women and men and one doubles. European junior championships have existed since 1974, world junior championships since 1997. A rhythm has developed in which world championships and European junior championships are held in odd years and the European championships and the junior world championships in even years. The International Luge Federation has been trying to get natural track luge recognized as an Olympic discipline since the 1970s , but so far all attempts to get this sport included in the program of the Olympic Games have failed.

The Fédération Internationale de Luge de Course (FIL) has existed since 1957, which split off from the FIBT as an independent luge organization . In addition to the bobsleigh riders, the athletes of the skeleton sport , which is very similar to luge, are organized in this. In Germany, all three sports are combined in the Bobsleigh and Sled Association for Germany (BSD) .

Luge on artificial track

Calgary Olympic ice rink toboggan start

Luge on artificial track - also called artificial track toboggan - is now almost exclusively toboggan on an artificial ice rink (ice channel with artificial cooling and elevated curves), with the driver lying on his back. It is steered by pressing and shifting the upper body. The ideal way of driving is to stay as flat as possible on the toboggan. Accelerating at take-off is done with short hand hits on the ice, so-called paddle hits .

Competitions traditionally take place in four disciplines: singles (women and men), doubles and in the team relay (one women each, one men and one doubles). There is no gender segregation in the two-seater competition; both men and women are allowed to participate. However, due to the different physical requirements, two-seater teams in competitive sports have consisted almost exclusively of men since the 1960s. A team competition (both singles and doubles) was held at international championships. This was replaced by the team relay, in which World Cup races have been taking place since the 2010/11 season ; since 2014 it has also been an Olympic discipline.In addition, the sprint discipline (women, men, two-seater) has existed since winter 2014/2015 , in which only one run with a flying start is held. It was the first world championship discipline at the world championships on the Königssee ice rink in 2016 . There is currently no separate sprint classification in the World Cup.

Luge sport has been an Olympic discipline since 1964 . In addition, world championships have been held since 1955. Related to tobogganing is Skeleton , which, unlike tobogganing, is ridden lying on your stomach. In addition, the skeleton sled, like the bobsleigh, has movable runners, which ultimately distinguishes both sports from luge, where fixed runners are used.


International toboggan competitions are traditionally dominated by athletes from Germany , Italy ( here especially from the South Tyrol region ) and Austria , with women even predominantly by Germans alone. At the 2004 World Championships in Nagano and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, the German women won all three medals, while the German men took first two places in Nagano in the singles and doubles. In addition, they won the team competition. The dominant position of a nation in hardly any other sport is as pronounced as in tobogganing. Athletes from both German states and since 1990 (Olympic Games 1964: all-German team) from reunified Germany have won

  • from 1964 to 2006 65 of 108 Olympic medals (60%),
    • this accounted for 24 of 36 Olympic victories (67%),
  • from 1960 to 2005 a total of 188 of 327 World Cup medals (57%),
    • of which two thirds (67%) of all world championship titles, and
  • from 1978 to 2005 33 of 86 overall World Cup victories (38%).
  • Among women, 71% of all World Cup medals and over 84% of world championship titles went to German athletes. They often take the first three places in major international competitions.
  • From 1997 onwards, only female athletes from Germany won World Cup races for 13 years, on December 5, 2010 the 100th competition in a row. This series broke after 105 wins in a row on February 12, 2011 in Paramonowo .
  • In the men's doubles and team competition, too, around two thirds of all titles went to Germany.

Artificial tracks

Germany is currently the only country that has four such railways. Most of the tracks are artificial ice rinks. There are only very few man-made tracks around the world that are operated without an icing system, as was the case in the early days of tobogganing. They can therefore only be used when the temperature is below zero. In Germany, this includes the Spießbergbahn . The Olympia Bobrun St. Moritz – Celerina is the best known, but is mainly used today for bobsleigh.

The Altenberg racing sled and bobsled run is considered the most difficult and dangerous in the world , along with the 2010 Olympic track in Whistler (British Columbia) .

Luge on a natural track

Ekaterina Lavrentieva (RUS)
Ekaterina Lavrentieva (RUS)

Luge on natural tracks is a variant of luge and is also the most original and traditional form of tobogganing. The Olympic discipline of luge on artificial ice rinks developed from natural tobogganing. Up to the beginning of the 20th century, sled races were mainly driven on snow-covered forest paths with one to two meter high walls of snow in the curves. From 1910, toboggan runs began to be laid and the excessive curves to be iced over, creating the first artificial tracks. After the Olympic premiere of luge on artificial ice rinks in 1964, the development of artificial and natural toboggan finally separated. In 1966, the International Luge Federation (FIL) set up its own natural track commission that dealt exclusively with this sport. In 1970 the first European championship took place in Kapfenberg, Austria, and the first world championship in natural track luge in 1979 in Inzing (AUT). Since the 1970s, the FIL has been trying to have natural tobogganing recognized as an Olympic discipline. So far, however, all applications have been rejected. In 1992 the first World Cup races finally took place in Rautavaara, Finland (near Kuopio). Luge sport on natural track includes the disciplines women singles, men singles and doubles. In addition, there will be a team competition with one single-seater for women and one single-seater for men. In parallel competitions, two tobogganists ride against each other on adjacent routes. A pursuit race has also been held several times. The World Cup in Deutschnofen / Nova Ponente, Italy, and the final in Umhausen, Austria, are described as classics, while the race on the shortened route in Moscow, Russia, is known as the City Race. Since the 2014/15 season, the FIL Junior World Cup Luge on Natural Track (JWC) has been available as a replacement for the Intercontinental Cup (IC Cup) with 4 races, which are classified in the Junior I and Junior II classes. While Austria and Italy were the dominant nations in international racing up until the 1990s , other countries such as Russia , Germany , New Zealand , Poland and the Ukraine can now also boast considerable successes.


Continental championships for women and men in even years annually Exception: North American championships. Continental junior championships in odd years

Sports equipment, equipment and driving technique

Luge «natural track luge» with deck rails and steering belt
Roller tobogganing (summer version)

The luge consists of a seat mat, two undivided metal seat frames, two runners with running rails, two protective strips on the sides and a steel steering rope. The running rails must neither be flexible nor divided across. The outer edges must have a break. The track width is a maximum of 450 mm (maximum 400 mm for young people). The width of the complete slide must not exceed 600 mm. The clearance angle of the running rails must not exceed 45 ° for single-seaters, 40 ° for double-seaters and 35 ° for young people's sleds. The weight is a maximum of 20 kg for the two-seater, 14 kg for the single-seater and max. 12 kg for the youth toboggan (for youth I and II only steel rails allowed).

The athletes wear special shoes. The shoes are provided with spikes firmly mounted on a plate. The length and number of spikes can be freely selected. In addition, protective helmets, racing suits and special gloves that have steel spikes on the outer surfaces of the finger parts are worn. At events, youth riders also wear regulated ankle guards under their toboggan shoes.

At the start, the athlete accelerates the sled with paddle strokes. The slide is controlled by shifting weight - especially the arms - with the feet and with straps attached to the ends of the runners. The installation of footrests is permitted, the use of mechanical braking devices is prohibited. The start takes place sitting on an icy launch ramp, which is provided with two ribbed handles. At the start, the weight and dimensions of the sled, the temperature of the rails and the fastening of the start number are checked. Competitors need a valid license. Driving times are taken to hundredths of a second. After a fall, the pilots are allowed to continue their journey on their own. Competitions take place in all weather conditions up to a temperature of - 25 ° C. In the case of lower temperatures, the race director is responsible for deciding whether to hold the competition.

The sports equipment has significant differences to that of artificial track tobogganing: The edges are razor-sharp, the runners are movable thanks to rubber bearings and are provided with a steel steering belt. In addition to their legs, athletes also use their hands or arms to steer.

The athlete starts sitting down on natural tobogganing, pulls himself away from a handle on an icy start ramp and accelerates with powerful paddle strokes with his hands. The driver wears gloves with spikes. It is controlled by shifting your weight and pressing your legs on the bow of the runner and with the steering rope attached to the ends of the runner. The use of spikes on the shoes can be used to brake. After a fall, the athletes are allowed to continue their journey on their own. The athletes toboggan on special sledges just a few centimeters above the ice on the prepared natural toboggan runs and reach top speeds of up to 90 km / h.

The razor-sharp rails keep the toboggan on track. Braking maneuvers are important in order to cope with the centrifugal forces in the bends. Constant technical innovations have made the luge for natural tracks a professional and dynamic piece of sports equipment. Luge on natural tracks is still an environmentally friendly and sustainable nature sport today. Due to the lack of artificial icing and the diverse use of the toboggan runs, which serve as forest and mountain roads in summer, this discipline remains one of the most natural forms of tobogganing.

Natural tracks

Parallel World Cup route Seiseralm (ITA)

Natural tracks are partly built on existing paths, but also on specially created areas and must of course be adapted to the given terrain. They are demarcated with wooden boards, plastic walls or foam mats and only prepared with snow and water (ice). The lanes must have a minimum width of 3 m and the curves have a minimum radius of seven meters. In contrast to artificial tracks, they must not be excessive. The usual lengths of these natural tracks are between 400 and 1200 m, they must not exceed an average gradient of 13% and a maximum gradient of 25%.

The natural track should have at least the following elements: • a left curve • a right curve • a bend (left and right) • a combination of curves • a straight line

Parallel competitions (approx. 300 m), pursuit races (300 m to 600 m) and city races (approx. 400 m) are held on shortened lanes. From the 2015/16 season, pursuit races (city event in Moscow, Junior World Cup Seiseralm) and parallel competitions in ski areas (for example in Kühtai / Tyrol and on the Seiseralm / Italy) are not permitted. The sole of the curve should be horizontal. More than 50 natural toboggan runs are mainly in use in Italy, Austria and Germany, plus there are runs in Russia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland, Sweden, Norway, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Croatia, New Zealand, Slovenia, the Ukraine, Slovakia, Switzerland, France and Liechtenstein as well as Canada and the USA. In Germany you can find race tracks in Unterammergau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Kreuth am Tegernsee, Rottach-Egern am Tegernsee and Tatzlwurm near Rosenheim (all Bavaria).

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Luge  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Luge  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Robert Cartmell: The Incredible Scream Machine: A History of the Roller Coaster Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1987, ISBN 0-87972-341-6 .
  2. Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 1888. .
  3. Instruction and entertainment sheet for the farmer and small tradesman in Bohemia, Volume 3, Haase Söhne, 1840. = de & sa = X & ved = 0CDkQ6AEwBWoVChMIo-yx9JraxwIVCroaCh3LiAYT # v = onepage & q = slip mountains & f = false .
  4. Tobogganing on the natural track: sporting development . Austrian Toboggan Association (PDF; 118 kB)
  5. a b toboggan history . Website of the toboggan section of the SC Riessersee .
  6. International Luge Regulations Natural Track (Version 2008) (PDF, 314 kB, p. 4)
  7. Harald Steyrer, Herbert Wurzer, Egon Theiner: 50 Years FIL 1957–2007. The history of the International Luge Federation in three volumes . tape I . Egoth Verlag, Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-902480-46-0 , p. 186, 187, 200, 221, 269, 320, 351, 369 .
  8. Tobogganing: Team relay with World Cup status ( Memento of the original from February 21, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Bob- und Schlittenverband für Deutschland, August 12, 2010, accessed on February 21, 2016. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. ^ Andreas Rüttenauer: Health risk bobsleigh. In: taz . January 6, 2012, accessed November 27, 2015 .
  10. The most difficult bobsleigh run in the world Robert Dunker, online from February 22, 2008
  11. Andre Lange fears fastest bobsled run in the world from February 13, 2010
  12. International Luge Regulations Natural Track (Version 2018) (PDF, 314 kB, pp. 11, 12–13)
  13. a b International Luge Regulations Natural Track (Version 2018) (PDF, 314 kB, p. 13)
  14. International Luge Regulations Natural Track (Version 2008) (PDF, 314 kB, p. 12)
  15. International Luge Regulations Natural Track (Version 2008) (PDF, 314 kB, p. 3)
  16. International Luge Regulations Natural Track (Version 2008) (PDF, 314 kB, p. 24)
  17. International Luge Regulations Natural Track (Version 2008) (PDF, 314 kB, p. 23)
  18. > Bavarian Bobsleigh and Sleigh Association
  19. International Luge Regulations Natural Track (Version 2018)
  20. Overview of the natural tracks on the FIL website