Lolo Hot Springs MT: 1965-First Luge Track in the US

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HELENA — The mountains of Western Montana are full of history – and that includes Olympic history. Almost 60 years ago, a group of Montana students went from newcomers to pioneers in the sport of luge.

Luge made its Olympic debut in 1964 in Innsbruck, Austria. After seeing the sport, a group of Montana businessmen got the idea to build a luge track of their own at the Lolo Hot Springs Resort, in the mountains about 30 miles west of Missoula. It became one of the first places in the United States to practice the sliding sport.

first luge tracks in the U.S.

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Photo by: University of Montana

By: Jonathon Ambarian

Among those involved in the effort were resort owners Gene Tripp and David Rivenes, a prominent advocate of amateur sports from Miles City. Tuck Spring and Steel, a Missoula company, eventually became the first business in the U.S. to produce sleds for luge.

Soon, students at the University of Montana created a luge club and started traveling to Lolo Hot Springs most weekends to practice. The track was rough and ready – a far cry from the polished ice of today’s luge competitions. The club members found themselves not only sliding on the track but helping to build it.

The people who built the luge run hoped to host national championships and Olympic trials at Lolo Hot Springs. That never happened since warm weather made the track too difficult to maintain.

However, the students who had learned to race there were starting to attract attention. By 1967, some of the Lolo racers had the opportunity to travel to Europe and train on professional tracks in Austria and Germany.

You can read the rest of the story here.




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