29th– Hansjörg Raffl born on this day in 1958 in Valdaora in Italy and competed in the Luge from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. He was affiliated to the Sportclub Carabinieri and Centro Sportivo Forestale. During his career Raffl competed in both singles and doubles, but he was most successful in his specialty, doubles. In 1974 he became a member of the Italian national team. Early in his career he teamed-up with Alfred Silginer, competing with him until 1980. The next season he started with Karl Brunner before he and Norbert Huber formed one of the most long-lasting and successful duo in luge history. Raffl made his first World Cup podium in 1979, winning his first World Cup race in 1982, both in doubles. In the overall standings he was ranked second in singles in 1979 and won eight trophies in doubles, a record he achieved together with Huber. Raffl participated in five consecutive Olympic Winter Games. At Sarajevo in 1984 a fall dropped his doubles team from second at the split to a ninth-place finish. Four years later he could not compete in doubles, because his partner was ill. Raffl took medals in doubles, winning bronze in 1992 and silver in 1994, when they finished behind another Italian team. During his international career (1978-94) Raffl won nine World Championship medals, two of them gold, 1989 team and 1990 doubles, along with four silver and three bronze medals. Raffl won seven medals at the European Championships,two gold, two silver and three bronze. After his active career Raffl became coach of the Italian national team.
Born today in Romania in 1966, Livia Pelin. She competed at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics in the single luge event where she was placed 17th.
German luger and bob-sledder Susi-Lisa Erdmann was born in 1968 in Blankenburg, Saxony-Anhalt. She competed from 1977 to 1998 in luge, then since 1999 in bobsleigh. Competing in five Winter Olympics, she won two medals in the women’s singles luge event with a silver in 1994 and a bronze in 1992, and a bronze at the inaugural two-woman bobsleigh event in 2002. She is one of only two people to ever win a medal in both bobsleigh and luge at the Winter Olympics (Italy’s Gerda Weissensteiner being the other.) Erdmann started her luge career at the age of 9, moving to Oberhof in 1981, and becoming a sport soldier in the former East German Army in 1988. After reunification she was a civil employee at the West German Bundeswehr, before they recruited female soldiers in 1992. She then moved to the sport support group at Berechtesgaden, and in 1997 was the first female professional sanitary soldier employed by the Bundeswehr. After the 1998 Nagano Olympics she switched to bobsleigh in 2000, later qualifying for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Besides her two Olympic medals Erdmann won her first World Championship in luge in 1989 in the singles, followed by titles in 1991 and 1997. She also won the European Championships in 1990, 1992, 1996 and 1998 and twice was an overall World Cup Winner (1991 and 1992). Additionally she was on the team World Champion four times (1990, 1992, 1993 and 1995). In bobsleigh Erdmann was overall World Cup champion and won the bronze medal at the Olympics in 2002, later winning the World Championship in the two-man bob in 2003 and 2004. Erdmann posed naked for German Playboy in 2004. In another rather esoteric sport, she won the Wok World Championships, which is a fun-sport competition organized by famous German TV entertainer Stefan Raab, in the four-man wok at Winterberg in 2006, repeating that title in 2008. In November 2007 Erdmann retired, marrying Italian luger Gerhard Plankensteiner in 2009.
Grant Albrecht, Canadian luger, was born in 1981 and started competing in 1998. Affiliated to the Calgary Luge Club he competed in two Winter Olympics, his best finish being tenth in the men’s doubles event at Turin in 2006. Albrecht’s best finish at the FIL World Luge Championships was ninth in the men’s doubles event at Nagano in 2004. After his competition career Albrecht worked as a luge coach, coaching the Australian national team at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and subsequently coached the Norwegian national team before being appointed as Alberta Development Coach by the Canadian Luge Association in August 2011.
30th-Halina Kanasz, born today in 1953 in Henrykowo, was a Polish luger who competed during the 1970s. Her home club was MBKS in Śnieżka Karpacz Country. She won two medals in the women’s singles event at the FIL European Luge Championships with a silver in 1974 and a bronze in 1975. Kanasz also competed in the women’s singles event at the1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, finishing tied for sixth and at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck finished at 14th.
31st-Born on this day in 1960 in Bischofswiesen, Bayern, Germany – Andrea Fendt, who was affiliated to the RC Berchtesgaden club and is the sister of Josef Fendt, who is the current president of the Federation Internationale de Luge de Course (FIL). Andrea had her biggest moments as a luger winning three consecutive National Championship between 1977 and 1979 and also as runner-up at the 1978 World Championships. She finished 12th in the singles at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. She spends her leisure time swimming and cycling but much of her free time is spent cultivating cactuses.
Dmitry Sergeyevich Alekseyev, born in Moscow today in 1966. He began competing for the Soviet national team in various youth categories in the doubles paired with Vitalij Mel’nik ,with whom he shared the rest of his career, winning two medals, one of which was gold, at the junior European championships. At international level he debuted in the World Cup in the 1984/85 season. He won the first podium in December 1987 in the doubles in Sarajevo, raking the bronze medal, while in the general classification the best position he obtained was third place in the doubles in 1987/88. He participated in the Winter Olympic Games in Calgary in1988, in what was to be his last international competition, finishing the event in sixth place. He also took part in two world championships, winning bronze in the doubles at Oberhof in 1985
Japanese luger Yuji Sasaki was born in 1972, and slid for the Sendai College Team.
He competed at two Winter Olympic Games – 1992 at Albertville where he finished 18th in the doubles and in 1994 in Lillehammer where he repeated his feat in the doubles event and was 25th in the singles.
Patrick Gruber born in 1978 in Bruneck, Italy and competed since 1997. He won seven medals at the FIL World Luge Championships with two silvers (Men’s doubles: 2011, Mixed team: 2007) and five bronzes (Men’s doubles: 2015 2016, Doubles sprint: 2016, Mixed team: 2004, 2005). At the FIL European Luge Championships, Gruber won nine medals with two golds (Men’s doubles: 2008, 2014), four silvers (Men’s doubles: 2004; Mixed team: 2004 2006, 2013), and three bronzes (Men’s doubles: 2006; Mixed team: 2012, 2014). Gruber competed in three Winter Olympics, earning his best finish of fourth in the men’s doubles event at Vancouver 2010 and he won the overall men’s doubles Luge World Cup title in 2004-5.
1st Feb–Veronika Oberhuber, was born on this day in 1967 in San Lorenzo di Sebato in Italy. She won the gold medal in the mixed team event at the 1989 FIL World Luge Championships in Winterberg, West Germany. She competed in two Winter Olympics, earning her best finish of 11th at Sarajevo in 1984.
Born in Sarajevo today in 1974, Verona Marjanović, a heavy metal music fan, Marjanović competed at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics takin 23rd place overall.
Torsten Wustlich, born in 1977 in Annaberg-Buchholz,Saxony, German luger who competed from 1998 to 2010. Together with André Florschütz, he won silver in the men’s doubles at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. Wustlich also won nine medals at the FIL World Luge Championships with six golds (Men’s doubles: 2001, 2005, 2008; Mixed team: 2005, 2008, 2009) and three silvers (Men’s doubles: 2004, 2009; Mixed team: 1999). His best overall finish at the FIL European Luge Championships was fifth in the men’s doubles event twice (2004, 2008). His best result in the men’s doubles Luge World Cup was second three times (2000-1, 2003-4, 2004-5).
Born on this day in Kežmarok in Slovakia in 1985 – Jana Šišajová, who started to compete in 2000. Participating in two Winter Olympics, she was 22nd in the singles at Turin in 2006 and 27th four years later in Vancouver. Her best finish at the FIL World Luge Championships was 24th in the singles event at Lake Placid in 2009. Her highest placing at the FIL European Luge Championships was 16th in the singles event at Cesana in 2008.
2nd-Born on this day in 1983, Jeff Christie, a two-time Olympian who represented Canada at Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010, where he finished 14th in the men’s singles event both times. He spent 16 years as a luge athlete, competing in 74 World Cup events and eight world championships. During Christie’s luge career he also served in the peer-elected position of Athlete Representative to the International Luge Federation (2006-2011). Christie retired as an active luge athlete in March 2011 to work on his passion for brewing beer. Since then, he has attended Royal Roads University, earning a Bachelor of Commerce Degree. Christie now resides in Calgary, Alberta where he is focused on realizing his dream of opening Christie Brewing, a craft brewery dedicated to making a true lager beer in a process powered by renewable energy. Christie has stayed involved in the sport of luge and currently sits on the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission where he focuses on athlete career transition preparation. He is also the president of the Calgary-based Maple Leaf Luge Club, which concentrates on providing support to luge athletes in their first two years of sliding and athletes that have retired from the sport.
Aleksander Peretyagin, born today in 1992 in Bratsk is a Russian luger who now lives in Chusovoy. He competed at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi where he was placed seventh in the singles competition.
Born a year later in 1993 was Polish luger Natalia Wojtuściszyn. She also competed at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, in both the singles and team relay, finishing 16th and 8th respectively.
Miriam-Stefanie Kastlunger, born in 1994 in Innsbruck, represented Austria at the 2014 Winter Olympics in the singles and team relay competitions. In the singles, she finished 17th. In the team relay, together with Wolfgang Kindl (men’s single) and Andreas Linger /Wolfgang Linger (double), she became 7th. Kastlunger was both women’s and team relay champion in luge at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics which took place in Innsbruck. She was affiliated to RV Swarovski Halltal Absam.
3rd-Today in 1949 in Tirol in Austria saw the birth of Wilhelm Biechl. He represented his country at the 1968 Grenoble Winter Olympics, placing 7th in the doubles event at the Luge Track in Villard-de-Lans.
Chinese Taipei luger Chuang Lai-Chun was born on this day in 1961. She took part in the 1984 Winter Games at Sarajevo where she unfortunately failed to finish the competition along with Britain’s Claire Sherred and Yumiko Kato from Japan, in a competition which resulted in a clean sweep of medals for the East German women.
4th-Born on this day in 1928 in Boston, Massachusetts, Dorothy Ann “Dee” Hirschland. She was affiliated to the Appalachian Mountain Club and represented her country at the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics where she failed to finish the course.
Raymond Lawrence “Ray” Fales, born today in 1934, took part in the 1964 Winter Games at Innsbruck where he finished in 13th place. Fales became an engineer, after his short-lived luge career, and then returned to Northwestern, where he earned a Ph.D. in economics. He taught for a while at Rutgers, before working for a Boston-area think tank, the Mitre Corporation. After retirement he moved to Florida, where he took up woodworking and cabinetry as a hobby. He then started volunteering around his home in Naples, doing woodworking for homeless shelters and Habitat for Humanity.