the high-speed descent on small sleds known as luges over specially constructed runs.
There are three types of luges: popular, juvenile (for instruction and training), and sports (racing). Sports luges are flexible and fast, with composite runners made of wood and metal. The runners are 15 cm high and 124 to 150 cm long, depending on the height and weight of the rider; the width between the runners varies up to 48 cm. There are single-seat luges, weighing up to 22 kg, and two-seat luges, weighing up to 26 kg. The rider lies on his back and steers the luge by changing the weight load on the runners by using a pull strap and by slightly lifting the leading edge of the runners.
There are natural (snow) runs of the bobsled type and man-made runs of ice laid over a concrete or wooden base. Natural runs are 1,500 to 2,000 m long and have 15 to 20 turns with guard walls made of compacted straw or snow. Man-made runs are 800 to 1,200 m long and have 10 to 16 turns with a minimum radius of 8 m and a height of 0.5 to 4 m; the width of the ice chute ranges from 130 to 150 cm, and the run is at an incline of up to 10°.
Modern lugeing includes competitions for single-seat luges for men and women and two-seat luges for men. There are four runs for single-seat luges and two runs for two-seat luges. The lowest aggregate time for all the runs determines the winner. The order of starts is established by lots and changes with each run.
Lugeing originated in Switzerland at the end of the 19th century. In 1883 athletes from eight countries competed in the first international meet at Davos. In 1889 the first specially made racing luges were created in Germany. The International Tobogganing Association was founded in Dresden in 1913. European championships have been held since 1914, and World championships, since 1955. In 1923 the International Bobsledding and Tobogganing Federation was founded, and it included a section for lugeing. The International Luge Federation (FIL) was established in 1957; in 1975 it united the national federations of 23 countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Since 1964 lugeing has been included in the Olympic Games, with competitions held only on man-made runs. Lugeing is most developed in Austria, the German Democratic Republic, Italy, Norway, Poland, the Federal Republic of Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Switzerland.
In Russia the first luge competitions were held in 1910; the sport has been promoted in the USSR since the 1960’s. The USSR Luge Federation was created in 1968, and it joined the FIL in 1971. In 1971 lugeing was included under the Uniform All-Union Sports Classification and was included in the program of the Trade Unions’ Winter Spartakiad. In 1974 the sport was made a part of the program of the Spartakiad of the Peoples of the USSR.
S. I. GUS’KOV