History of Luge

What is Luge?

Luge first originated in the Swiss Alps and was practiced on logging roads leading from the hills to the villages.  Recreational sliding became organized in 1883 with the first international competition being held in Davos, Switzerland where seven nations were represented.  Luge became an Olympic sport in 1964 at Innsbruck, Austria.  As the sport evolved it separated into two disciplines.  Kuntsbahn, which is German for Artificial Track, and is the present day Olympic Style which has high banked turns and speeds averaging 60-90 mph.  The 2nd discipline, Naturbahn, German for Natural Track, retained the look of its origins.  The turns are flat and the athlete uses more body movements which can be seen by most spectators.  It is interesting to note that most of the terms and the language of this sport are German.  Yet we, in the U.S. adopted the French word for sled, Luge.

Luge in Utah?

Established during the winter of 1995, the Wasatch Luge Club (WLC) was created in response to the growing interest and questions regarding the sport of Luge in Utah.  As a result of Salt Lake City’s Olympic selection, a new Bobsled/Luge Run was constructed at the Bear Hollow site in Park City, now known as the Utah Olympic Park. The WLC acts as a point of first contact for anyone with a question about the sport of Luge, whether it’s only general curiosity or a true desire to be involved.

The Wasatch Luge Club is the only Luge club sanctioned by the United States Luge Association in this area.  Our mission is to promote the sport of Luge as a means of recreation for all ages, to act as a feeder to the National Team System, and to create a base of volunteers and officials to aid in the running of events.  These events range from local club level races to the Olympics and beyond.

How do I get Involved?

The track opened in January of 1997.  Programs are designed for every level of ability and interest, as well as every age group.  Currently youth programs for ages 9-17 years old make up the bulk of the time.  However, there are opportunities for anyone who wishes to slide, there is no such thing as being to old to have fun.  Sliding takes place, generally, six days a week with times varying from early morning to late evening.  Contact Jon Owen at the USLA  office at 435-647-3800.

If you’re not interested in being the next World or Olympic Champion but enjoy local and world-class competition, become an official or volunteer.  To be an official all it takes is a weekend class and working approximately 2 or 3 races per year.  It’s exciting and shows the world how great the folks in the Salt Lake/Park City are.  The WLC welcomed the World during the 2002 Winter Olympics and again when we have hosted World Cups and the 2005 World Championships.  The Olympics were not the end, but just the beginning of luge in the state of Utah.  The Wasatch Luge Club and the Olympic Park still act as hosts to World Cups which bring the best sliders in the World to Utah to rub shoulders with our Official’s and Volunteer’s.  So come on out and have some fun.

Membership

A one year membership to the WLC is $25.00 for an individual, $40.00 for a family of two, $10.00 for every family member after that.  Membership includes access to equipment and sliding on the Park City and Lake Placid, NY Tracks.  Other benefits include our newsletter, invitations to our great barbecues, and it provides the opportunity to be involved in our community service events.  Come join a sport that is rapidly growing in the U.S.!

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