Long-time dream come true for the FIL Team Relay now part of the Olympic programme
London (pps) The dream of the International Luge Federation, FIL, of a fourth luge discipline at the Olympic Winter Games has come true. On the occasion of the IOC Executive Board Meeting in London, the President of the International Olympic Committee, IOC, Belgium’s Jacques Rogge announced that the FIL Team Relay has been approved and will thus be a part of the Olympic pro- gramme. Already at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, not only medals in the disciplines women’s and men’s singles as well as doubles’ will be awarded but, for the first time, in the Team Relay, too.
“This is a wonderful present by the IOC, since the FIL will have a special anniversary during the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi: Carried out for the first time at the 1964 Olympics in Innsbruck, in 2014 the sport luge will celebrate its 50th anniversary of being part of the Olympic programme”, said FIL President Josef Fendt (Berchtesgaden) in London. “That’s a great story”, added the for- mer two-time World champion and in 1976 winner of an Olympic silver medal in Innsbruck. Since 1994 Fendt acts as President of the International Luge Federation.
It was thanks to FIL Founding President Bert Isatitsch (Fuerstenfeld/AUT) that the sport of luge achieved “Olympic maturity”. His successor Fendt now succeeded in adding another luge discipline to the Olympic Programme. Fendt: “Despite some setbacks our efforts and our commitment have finally paid off.”
“This decision is a great thing for us athletes”, explained Germany’s Olympic champion Tatjana Huefner. The three-time World champion then added: “Now luge athletes have an additional chance to earn a medal, similar to almost all other Olympians.”
Italy’s Armin Zoeggeler, with two Olympic gold medals and six World Championship titles currently the world’s most successful luge athlete, appreciates the inclusion of the Team Relay Event within the Olympic Programme: “We athletes are really happy with the Team Relay and that also holds true for spectators and media. The Team Relay is an enrichment for the Winter Games”, explained the athlete from South Tyrol.
The FIL Team Relay Event came into being on January 7, 2007 on the artificially-iced track in Koenigssee. Already in 2008, at the 40th FIL Luge World Championships in Oberhof, Germany, the first titles in this new discipline were awarded. Prior to the 2010-2011 season the Team Relay Event then received its World Cup status. Due to technical problems during the 42nd FIL Luge World Championships in Cesana (ITA), however, the Team Relay Event had to be cancelled.
IOC President Jacques Rogge, given the personal mandate by the IOC Executive Board in autumn 2010 to make the final decision on including additional disciplines within the programme of Olympic Winter Games, also approved other new events. Apart from the FIL Team Relay these are ski half- pipe (men and women), women’s ski jumping, mixed relay in biathlon as well as the team event in figure skating.