Fédération Internationale de Luge de Course

The Fédération Internationale de Luge de Course (FIL) or International Luge Federation is the main international federation for all luge sports. Founded by 13 nations at Davos, Switzerland in 1957, it has members of 49 national luge associations as of 2007 and is based in Berchtesgaden, Germany.


Early beginnings

The first luge competition took place on February 12, 1883 on a four kilometer course between Davos and Klosters, Switzerland, with the co-winners from Australia and Switzerland having a time of 9 minutes, 15 seconds. Austria, Germany, and Switzerland founded the Internationaler Schlittensportsverband (ISSV - International Sled Sport Federation in ) in 1913 in Dresden, Germany. The first European Luge Championships took place in Reichenberg, Bohemia (now Liberec, Czech Republic) in 1914. World War I in Europe caused the ISSV operations to be suspended and prevented any additional competitions until 1927.

Rebirth and merging into FIBT

In 1927, the ISSV was reestablished with the second European Luge Championships taking place in Schreiberhau, Germany (now Szklarska Poręba, Poland) the following year with a women's competition included. The ISSV was absorbed into the Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing (FIBT - International Bobsleigh and Tobagganing Federation in ) in 1935 and was part of the "Section de Luge" until the early 1950s.

Independence from FIBT

At a 1954 International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Athens, Greece, it was determined that luge would replace skeleton as an Winter Olympic discipline. Skeleton, which had been a sport both at the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics, would not return as an Olympic sport until the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The first World Luge Championships would take the following year at the Holmenkollen in Oslo, Norway. The FIL was established in Switzerland in 1957 with membership granted into the IOC at their congress in Sofia, Bulgaria that same year. Bert Isatitsch of Austria was elected President of the FIL.

FIL growth

At the 1959 IOC meeting in Munich, West Germany, luge was approved for inclusion into the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck with competitions taking place in neighboring Igls. 12 nations took part in the first Winter Olympic luge competitions with timing taking place in 1/100ths of a second. Following a tie in the men's doubles competition between East Germany and Italy at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, the FIL began timing all of their competition in 1/1000ths of a second, a practice that continues as of 2007. The first natural track European championships took place in Kapfenberg, Austria in 1970 while the first natural track World Championships took place in Inzing, Austria in 1979. The first Junior World Championships on artificial track took place at Lake Placid, New York, United States three years later.

FIL today

Isatitich died suddenly on February 8, 1994 and then Vice-President for Sport, Josef Fendt, took over as Acting President. Fendt would be named president at the FIL congress in Rome, Italy later that year, a position he still holds as of 2007.

FIL events

The FIL governs competitions on artificial tracks and natural tracks at both the European and World Championship levels. At the Winter Olympics, artificial tracks competitions are only contested. The events at the European and World Championships are men's singles, men's doubles, women's singles, and a team event consisting of one run each from men's singles, men's doubles, and women's singles.

Artificial tracks are tracks that have their curves specifically designed and banked with walled-in straightaways. Made of reinforced concrete and cooled with ammonia refrigeration, these tracks are smooth and have g-forces of up to 4g (Four times the athlete's body weight). Men's singles on most tracks have their start house close to the bobsleigh and skelton start locations while both the men's doubles and women's singles have their start house located further down the track. As of 2008, there are fifteen bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton artificial tracks worldwide with a 16th in Whistler, Canada (the Whistler Sliding Centre) completed in November 2007 in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics (The Whistler track was homologated in March 2008.). Two more in Russia, one near Moscow (with bobsleigh and skeleton) and one near Sochi (with bobsleigh and skeleton), are also under construction with the former officially opened in March 2008 while the latter was scheduled to start in the fall of 2007 with completion in the fall of 2009. The track near Sochi, the Russian National Sliding Centre, will be in use for the 2014 Winter Olympics, has had its construction delayed to start height issues of the track and to its location near a World Heritage Site, including near an endangered species of brown bear.

Natural tracks are tracks adopted from existing mountain roads and paths, including a horizontal track surface and natural track icing. Most of these tracks are located in Austria, Italy, Germany, Poland, Canada, the United States, and Slovenia.

FIL Hall of Fame

In 2004, the FIL established a Hall of Fame for the greatest competitors in luge. As of 2008, there have been a total of six inductees.

FIL Presidents

In its 50 year history, FIL has only had two presidents, Bert Isatitich (1957-94) and Josef Fendt (1994-present).



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