The first international luge competition was held on February 12, 1883 when competitors from Australia, England, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland raced on a four kilometre road between Davos and Klosters. Australian student Georg Robertson and Swiss mailman Peter Minsch tied for the victory in a time of nine minutes and 15 seconds.
The sport’s first international governing body was founded in 1913 and would organize luge competitions until 1935 when the sport was incorporated into the governing body for bobsleigh and skeleton. In 1954 the International Olympic Committee decided to replace skeleton (contested at St. Moritz 1928 and St. Moritz 1948) with luge, leading to the sport’s first world championship in 1955 and the founding of the International Luge Federation in 1957. Luge made its Olympic debut at Innsbruck 1964.
Luge athletes begin their ride by sitting on an open fibreglass sled. At the top of the track they grab two handles and rock back and forth to build momentum. After bursting from the start area, they use spiked gloves to paddle along the ice for more acceleration before lying down on their backs with feet stretched out in front and heads kept low to maintain an aerodynamic position. Racers steer the sled by shifting their body weight as well as pressing in on the two runners with their feet. Speeding around high-banked curves at speeds upwards of 130 km/hr, luge racers can experience a pull equal to five times the force of gravity. All luge events are timed to the thousandth of a second (0.001).