Women’s Doubles in the Olympic Program for Milano-Cortina 2026
Lausanne (FIL) It is a day of joy for all female luge athletes. On Friday, June 24, 2022, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) met in Lausanne (SUI) regarding the program of the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026.
Thereby, the discipline Women's Doubles was included as a new Olympic discipline in the competition program from 2026. With the inclusion of the women's doubles, the FIL will make a big stride towards gender equality in the sport of luge.
In addition to the four existing Olympic luge disciplines in men's and women's singles, men's doubles and team relay, women's doubles will now become the fifth Olympic luge discipline in the ice track, and will also be added to the team relay event.
FIL President Einars Fogelis was very pleased: "This important decision of the IOC offers an additional medal opportunity for our women and thus gives absolutely equal consideration to the gender equality in the sport of luge. In addition, our national federations will of course have another medal chance at Olympic Games and thus more TV and media presence and attention due to an additional event. Since no new sports venue is required for our latest competition, we fulfill the points of the Olympic Agenda 2020+5 here, which makes me particularly happy."
Also, German head coach Norbert Loch was immediately enthusiastic: "I think the decision to include women's doubles in the Olympic competition program is of course very very good for our sport of luge. In recent years, we have already made changes in terms of gender equality in order to have equal numbers in the women's and men's starting classes. The women have presented themselves very well in the doubles in the recent years and I am looking forward to it, because it is also an opportunity for us to advance this important event. We are of course aiming to be successful in the women's doubles at the next Olympic competitions and to win medals."
"I think the IOC's decision is great because it means that many young female athletes now have the chance to achieve two Olympic medals and don't have to focus only on their individual careers. But it is also an important step in the direction of equal rights for men and women, and that is why I think it is important and right that this decision was made this way", explained double World Champion Jessica Degenhardt (GER), who herself had a double start at the 2020+ Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne and won silver in singles and gold with Vanessa Schneider in doubles.
At the 2022 Women's Doubles World Championships in Winterberg (GER), after the two German duos Jessica Degenhardt/Cheyenne Rosenthal and Luisa Romanenko/Pauline Patz, the US-Americans Chevonne Forgan/Sophia Kirkby finished in bronze. "I am very happy that the IOC Executive Board is working hard on gender equality in sports. Standing on the podium at the 2022 FIL Luge World Championship was a huge thrill. I can only imagine what it would be like going to the Olympics with my doubles partner. A great dream would come true”, says 21-year-old Sophia Kirkby.
Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless are considered pioneers in women's doubles. The duo first competed in a Men's World Cup for Canada on December 14, 2019, at the 2010 Olympic track in Whistler. The two Canadian women took silver at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games in Switzerland. "I am so incredibly happy that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to include women's doubles in the Olympic program. This is an important step towards achieving gender equality in luge and will hopefully inspire other sports to follow the example that luge will set. Including women's doubles in the Olympic program would mean more women will get the opportunity to compete and succeed at one of the highest levels in sport, and would hopefully more women and girls will be able to get involved in luge and stay in the sport of luge for longer”, said the 19-year-old Nash on Friday, June 24, 2022 after the IOC decision for the Olympics.
Selina Egle and Lara Kipp were medal favorites in the women's doubles at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games and had to pass after breaking their leg in training. Now the two Austrians are even more pleased that their joint career will continue.
Selina Egle said: "I think it's great that women also get the opportunity to compete in doubles. Because doubles is something very special for me personally. I love to share ups and downs with each other and to rejoice together. I can't wait to go down this road together." And her backer Lara Kipp adds, "I'm extremely happy to be able to race with Selina again after a long break. I missed celebrating victories together, but also experiencing defeats. That's also part of it, and everything is just nicer when you're two. And that's exactly why the inclusion of women's doubles in the Olympic program would be so great for us: we could experience this incredible event together."
In the fall of 2021, the FIL applied to the IOC for the inclusion of the discipline women's doubles in the Olympic program for 2026. This application is in line with the objectives of the Olympic Agenda 2020+5 of the IOC and the FIL Strategic Plan “Slide 2026”. With the inclusion of women's doubles in the Olympic program, a women's double will also be added to the Olympic team relay competition. Starting in Milan-Cortina 2026, a team relay per nation will consist of two doubles (one female and one male) and two singles of both genders. With the decision of the IOC Executive Board on June 24, 2022, gender equality in luge will be fully achieved.