Interview with Technical Director Andris Sics:
“I am sure our sport will develop and be more interesting and more modern in the future.”

Andris Šics

Berchtesgaden (FIL/10 May 2024) FIL Technical Director Andris Sics from Latvia completed his second season in his position in the winter of 2023/2024. Previously, the 38-year-old from Sigulda was still an active luge athlete, competing in doubles with his brother Juris Sics. The two brothers took part in five Winter Olympics and won three Olympic medals. These included silver in Vancouver 2010 and two bronze medals in Sochi 2014 (doubles and team). Most recently, the Sics brothers finished fifth at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Andris and Juris Sics stood at the top of the podium in three World Cup races in the 2021/22 Olympic season and secured second place in the overall World Cup and victory in the Sprint World Cup in their final season.

Mr. Sics, when you look back on the 2023/2024 luge season, what do you think were the highlights?

Andris Sics: "The highlight of the season for sure was the World Championship. We have trained and raced two weeks on the same track and there were a lot of technical controls. It was the main event of the season and the busiest time from my side. And the first World Cup in December 2023 in Lake Placid was really busy. Reto Gilly was with me at the first World Cup, and he helped me a lot. We hand some hundred sleds to control at the beginning of the season. Everybody came to check his sled, mostly not only once, we had to check their sleds more times.”

How do you plan to develop future strategies based on these experiences?

Andris Sics: "My second season was already different than the first was. It was not only from my side, also from the side of the Sport Director’s Matthias Böhmer. We had an “open-door-policy” for this last season. If I am at the track, my door is always open, we can always check sleds or equipment. We can do that whenever the athletes want to. There is no time slot for this.
This results in very less qualifications during the last season. We could fix all the technical issues during the training. So, everything was well preparade and correct for the competitions. I don’t want to disqualify athletes. I want fair competitions. This open-door-policy was very good. I would like to go this direction also in the future!”

Is this your philosophy because two years ago you just changed from the athletes to the official`s side?

Andris Sics: "Maybe, yes. Because I am not still like an athlete, but I still think at the athletes. It is possible to get some advice and the technical director should give the opportunity to help, whenever possible. So, the experience from my athlete’s side is implemented in my work as and official.”

Are there any specific ideas or concepts for new race formats that have already been discussed or that you personally support?

Andris Sics: "The FIL Executive Board and the Congress in June have to decide on this first. But as I can say, the team of the FIL is very open-minded. Our sports director Matthias Böhmer and the sports commission have come up with new ideas. We are changing now, and that is very important. And when I say "we", I don't just mean the FIL, but the entire luge family. Also, athletes and coaches want to change something to make our sport better. We are all together the FIL-Family and we are on the right path to a positive future.
Some ideas are new, some ideas are already from the past. For example, there could be a new mixed event format in the future. Or something else. We are all very open-minded about new ideas.”

Are there any planned developments in terms of luge boots that you are working on?

Andris Sics: "For the luge shoes, we are working with the company RASS, which develops GTS shoes for racing and training. The new training version of the shoes is ready. We must introduce these new shoes now, but we don't want to ban the old ones immediately. There are still many of them in use, and they cost the teams a lot of money. The new training shoes are safer, and that's important. From an athlete's point of view, I would buy the new and safer shoes. More than 80 percent of runs take place during training and most injuries happen during training. So that's very important."

Quote Andris Sics, FIL Technical Director

How do you rate the current development in the women's doubles in luge?

Andris Sics: "It’s a very new discipline. I would say the women make a great job. It is great to watch them. The difference for the top six at the World Championship was very small. This is interesting to watch and I am happy that more female athletes coming in this discipline. Just in the first season were a lot of questions from the ladies, how to do, how to drive and where to steer. In this second season the women’s doubles were so professional and experienced and had not these questions anymore. This was very interesting. I was happy to see that. The women’s doubles learned very fast.”

How was the integration of the women’s doubles in the team relay last winter?

Andris Sics: "From my perspective the first team relay competition in Whistler was very scary. We did not know what will happen and how it will work. There were a lot of people and a lot of tests and at the end I would say: Yes, the integration of the women’s doubles was satisfying and made the races more interesting!”

Which areas of luge do you see as particularly important for future development?

Andris Sics: "For sure it’s “safety”! For the athletes this is the most important topic. To gather not only from the technical side, also from equipment and the track. All these three topics must develop very close to each other. The importance is to give more safety to the athletes. This is my main goal, not only from me, also from the FIL side.”

What are the most significant applications and proposed changes to the IRO 2024 regulations?

Andris Sics: "The biggest things will be the changes from the strategic plan SLIDE 2026 from the FIL and which were approved by the technical commission. To name it, it concerns the standardized parts for the sleds. This will make our sport more accessible for smaller and new developing nations. The sleds will be more standardized. This will open the door for new athletes and new countries to the sport of luge. Hopefully it will also reduce the prize for sleds. And it will be implemented after the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics. It will be in the congress this year to give the nations a long-term plan for the future and to give the opportunity to prepare for this in the future”.

Who do you see the sport of luge in the year 2030? What do you think will be develop and how will the sport look in ten or more years?

Andris Sics: "I think the sport of luge will grow and it will be more interesting and more modern. Because we will implement new technologies. Not only the sled parts, also touch pads, TV, and race graphics for the spectators on site and on TV. We have some interesting new ideas and new race formats. The Sports Commission came up with some creative ideas and I am sure our sport will develop and will be more interesting and more modern in the future.”

Thank you very much, Andris Sics!