All Natural Luge sleds have the following components:
2 runners (also known as Kufins)
A front bridge
A rear bridge
A seat or pod usually supported by the bridges
Finger guards (also known as wings)
Club sleds are very easy to maintain and with normal use they can last for years.
Many club sleds 20 years old are still usable and the main problem with them is when new athletes have problems and crash. Occasionally sleds are broken during training but this happens rarely however.
Normal care must be taken to keep the steel attachments on the runners from rusting and being damaged by rocks and other hard objects. Usual care requires them having all snow removed after each use and coating them with a wax or other waterproof covering during the off season.
The main damage done to sleds is broken finger guards. Finger guards are normally broken during training or competition when an athlete makes contacts with a wall or other hard object while sliding down a hill or track. These finger guards are easily built and replaced by anyone with normal “handyman” skills.
In most cases learning to maintain club sleds is done by someone in a club who works with wood or metal as they already have most of the skills to perform necessary maintenance. As experience progresses they learn more detailed skills and progress to higher levels of a sled technician.
Torggler Sled Manufacturing:
Martlen Sled Manufacturing:
Gloco Sled Manufactuing:
Gaser Sled manufacturing: (German only)
The following selection of photos shows the different types of luge sleds.
The “Laser Luge”:
Typically this sled is used solely for recreational sliding on toboggan hills where a track is not actually used for proper Natural Luge sliding. The Canadian Luge Association previously held the patent for this sled but it has not been produced for several years now.
This sled is made entirely of plastic and does not work well on hard packed snow as the runners to not cut into the snow to enable the sled to turn. It can be fun on the proper snow conditions but is not used for any serious Luge sliding or during Luge competition.
Snow sleds are used almost entirely on snow tracks or ski hill slopes. They can be modified slightly to function as training sleds for first time users on an ice track but are not preferable for ice sliding use.
The sleds with the yellow and red runners (kufins) are old now and were built in Europe. The sled with the black runners and red seat is new and was built in British Columbia in 2005.
These sleds all have strips of steel attached to the underside of their runners to assist with steering the sled on hard packed snow. They all function well as club sleds and can be easily adapted to fit most sliders. The reign shown on each of the sled is an important part of the sled and assists the slider with steering around corners.
Manufactured in Europe – 20 years old. They are great for beginners.
Manufactured in Europe – 20 years old – They are great for beginners.
This sled is manufactured in British Columbia by a company called Martlen Enterprises. Clubs in Alberta purchased about 25 of them in December of 2005.
The cost of each of these was more than $400. They are the only sleds currently being manufactured in North America.
These sleds work best on hard packed snow conditions and are easy to drive.
Until recently, high performance ice racing sleds were manufactured only by 1 company (Torggler) in a small town in northern Italy (Latzfons) and are very expensive. To purchase one new the cost is at least $1500 (depending on the exchange rate for Euros). They are usually purchased by individual athletes who are trained and experienced enough to slide on ice and therefore clubs rarely own them.
They each have special attachments similar to a ski connected to the bottom of each runner with a Pitex (plastic) housed with steel. The steel is extremely sharp and is what allows the athlete to steer the sled around corners on glare ice.
The single athlete ice racing sled is used in competition such as World Cup and World Championship ice track races. It takes a lot of skill and training to make it navigate ice tracks. They are very exciting to watch. The maximum weight for a singles sled is 14kg.
The doubles ice racing sled is very similar to the singles ice racing sled. The main difference is that it is physically a bit larger to allow 2 athletes to sit on it and as such weighs more than a singles sled. The maximum weight for this sled is 20kg.
The ice racing sled on the left shows the Pitex (plastic) runner. By comparison the smaller yellow sled has a plain steel attachment to the runner and does not function well on ice tracks as it cannot be sharpened as required and the angle of the runner to the ice is much less.
The steel/pitex attachments to the runners are very important to the athletes. They spend hours preparing them prior to, and between each competition run to allow them to have the best control and time in the race. Most athletes take years to learn how to prepare their sleds for elite competition use.