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luge as a winter activity first began in the Swiss Alps. People
would practise on logging roads which led from the hills down to
the villages. The sport of recreational luge was first organized
in 1883, with the first international competition held in Davos,
Switzerland. In that first international event, there were a mere
21 riders from Australia, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden,
Switzerland and the United States. It was on a 4 km piece of road
from St. Wolfgang to Klosters. Then in 1964, luge became an Olympic
sport at the Innsbruck, Astria games.
Throughout its development, the sport of luge branched into two
- Kuntsbahn (German for Artificial Track) is
the present day Olympic Style. Composed of high bank turns and
speeds of 60-90 mph.
- Naturbahn (German for Natural Track) retains
the look of its origins. The turns are flatter and luge athletes
use body movements that can be seen by the spectators.
Most of the language and terms involved with in this activity are
from the German language, but the U.S. adopted the French word for
sled, Luge, to name the sport itself.
Here is a thorough glossary of luge language:
Block: Part of the start trajectory in which the
sled is rocked forward.
Bootie: The racing shoe worn by sliders. The bootie
enhances the slider's aerodynamics and is smooth in shape with no
treads on the soles. It weighs only 3.9 ounces, making it easier
for the sliders to hold up their feet against the G-forces encountered
going down the track.
Bridge: The steel connecting pieces at the front
and the back of the sled. The bridge sits between the two runners
and holds the aerodynamic racing shell.
Compression: Part of the start motion in which
the athlete draws the sled back immediately before the forward pull.
The slider's knees spread, and his or her head is drawn between
Crank: To apply a concerted amount of steering
Diamond Paste: A paste, which contains diamond
particles, used by sliders to polish the sled's steel runners to
reduce friction with the ice.
FIL: The Fédération Internationale
de Luge de course (The International Luge Federation), the international
governing body for luge.
G-Force: The gravitational force that holds both
the sled and the athlete against the wall on a banked turn.
Kriesel: German word for a toy top. In luge, the
term describes a turn on the track which curves back under itself.
It is also used to describe a curve of 360 degrees or more.
Kufen: German word for a fibreglass or wood runner.
Kunstbahn: German term for an artificially refrigerated
Labryinth: A series of three or more curves, usually
short, with little to no straightaway between them.
Line: The trajectory the sled makes down the course.
Lose your head: The term applied to a slider who
cannot keep his or her head up through a high G-force turn.
Luge: French word for sled or toboggan.
Omega Curve: A set of three large curves that are
connected. From above, the shape resembles the Greek letter omega.
Paddle: The pushing motion after the start in which
sliders use spiked gloves to dig into the ice surface to propel
Pod: The shell attached to the bottom of the racing
sled on which the slider sits.
Renrodel: German word for racing sled.
Roll: Term to describe steering using shoulder
pressure and a slight turning of the head.
S-curve: Two connected turns that travel in alternate
Slider: A term for an athlete in sliding sports,
like bobsleigh, luge or skeleton.
Spike: Tips that are placed on the fingertips or
knuckles of gloves to help the slider paddle to generate speed in
Spritz: To optimize the track's speed by spraying
a fine mist of water over the ice.
Steels: Steel runners that are attached to wood
or fibreglass runners.
Sturz: German word for crash.
For most of us, ice skating is merely recreational, whether ice
hockey or simply ice skating in a rink.
Congratulations on your ambition to try learning to ski! Skiing
is an extremely enjoyable winter activity, and one that has been
around for centuries.
Learning to snowboard can either be a frustrating experience, or
quite an enjoyable one.