Words by Emily Parr
Photos courtesy of Leah Bayin
Over the years it has become the norm for women to feature and compete in extreme sports, from skydiving to motor-cross, their presence is felt in the form of ripples in the pond of unequal gender representation. However, there are still sports yet to feel the presence of women, although this number is shrinking by the day. Street Luge is one sport that can be crossed of the list.
Street luge is a skateboard derived sport, very similar to the ice-luge that features in the Winter Olympics, only instead of taking place on an artificially frozen track; it takes place on roads, hills and pavements. Participants lie down on specially engineered boards and use the power of gravity and their own weight to create momentum and propel down hills, reaching speeds of over 100 km/h. Street Luge featured in ‘Charlie’s Angels, Full Throttle’, just to give you a visual as to what it is.
For a period it featured in the X games, peaking during the 80’s and 90’s before settling down and becoming a sport whose participants were the veterans left over from its short lived success. More recently it has, again, gained momentum in terms of exposure and rider population. From a few dozen based around the globe few and far between, it has exploded into the hundreds, the majority of this being men.
Historically, the participation of women has been minimal, although the occasional one would pop up; it seemed to be short lived. However within the last few years, more and more women have not only been taking up Street Luge, but sticking to it. This has been mainly due to Street Luge’s growing partnership with skateboarders. With women already being an established presence within skating, it was only natural that when skaters started to take up luge, so did women.
This has resulted in the presence of just over a dozen female competitors globally, a few have played with the ‘status’ that comes with being a female in a male dominant sport, sexing up the sport and promoting it as the friendly, safe environment it is. Women such as Ms xx Fast partakes in not only Street Luge but skydiving, motorbike racing and base jumping. Lovely ladies of luge also featured in a naked calendar aimed at raising money for breast cancer research.
Australia’s involvement in Street Luge has peaked over the last year. The development of area specific websites catering to and aiming to encourage and support Street Luge within that area, prompted the idea about a site specific to the female riders. So www.ladiesofluge.com was established, aimed at promoting and supporting the women currently within the sport and encouraging the new ones.
It’s hoped that Ladies of Luge will encourage more female competitors globally while banding them together, and uniting them with strength to maintain their presence within Street Luge over the coming years.
The beauty of Street Luge lies in the fact that it surpasses all social classes and stigmas and can literally be done by anyone; builders, businessmen, CEO’s, Mums and Dads all compete, their ages ranging from 11 all the way up to 50 and 60 something.
This is truly unique toany other sport, being largely self governed, it means that those whocan no longer compete are not cast aside from the community. Instead they become a part of the back bone that runs and establishes events, or builds and supplies Luge’s.
The establishment of more and more legitimate events propping up in Europe, the America’s, Britain and Australia is a testament to how much it is growing.
Either way the supportive and family-style community is embracing women within the sport, and simply wanting more of them!
To get involved, learn about the women within the sport or simply find out more about Street Luge and the lugers in your area, go to the following sites:
www.igsaworldcup.com (World Wide)