Berchtesgaden (pps) The „Athletes’ Meeting” of the International Luge Federation, FIL, has already become a tradition. Since the 2003-2004 season, when this meeting was organised for the first time in Sigulda, Latvia, FIL President Josef Fendt now invites all participants of the Viessmann Luge World Cup once a year to attend an informational meeting. On this occasion, the former World champion informs the athletes about his activities and he also listens to the needs and worries of his successors in the ice labyrinth. There is no other Olympic Winter Sports Federation, where the interaction between athletes and officials is so close as within the FIL.

Prior to the upcoming luge season, the FIL will again turn another suggestion of the athletes into reality. So so-called sprint race will celebrate its debut as SUZUKI Sprint Competition on January 23, 2009 at Altenberg, Germany. The start will be executed from the already well-proven start-ramp of the relay events. Contrary to the “classic” luge starts, where every athlete decides when to kick-off, it will now come down to a good reaction time in the new variant of the sprint competition. It is now a random generator that will give the “track is clear” signal.

One of the promoters of this sprint competition is athletes’ representative Jeff Christie of Canada. It was Christie who campaigned again and again for his new idea. With Sepp Benz as Chairman of the Sports Commission, he then found an advocate who carries a lot of weight. Eventually the proposal found attentive ears among the FIL Executive Board.

The première of the sprint race as SUZUKI Sprint Competition is the most evident implementation of a suggestion by the athletes, but by far not the only one. Upon pressure by the athletes, the FIL increased the number of Viessmann Luge World Cup events from eight to nine in the upcoming season. And the increase in prize money by almost one third is also based upon a wish raised by the athletes for quite a long time now.

By the way, the next FIL “Athletes’ Meeting” will take place on November 27, 2008 prior to the first Viessmann World Cup event in Innsbruck-Igls.