Ruined Olympic luge track in Sarajevo to be restored

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The luge and bobsled track used at the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics is in its initial phase of restoration, the International Luge Federation announced. The Bosnia and Herzegovina luge association hope to transform the track from an extreme example of Olympic venue gone to waste to a usable sport facility.

The Sarajevo Games were widely considered a success, with highlights including the gold medal-winning skates of British ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean and the first ever Olympic medal for host country Yugoslavia, won by skier Jure Franko in the giant slalom. 49 countries competed, a then record.

In 1992, the Bosnian War descended on Sarajevo for a nearly four-year siege. The Olympic facilities became part of the bloody conflict, with the luge and bobsled track used as an artillery stronghold. Smithsonian Magazine reports that “some defensive holes, drilled by troops, can still be seen in the track’s concrete walls.”

In the years since, the bullet hole-ridden Olympic structures have been further overtaken by graffiti and nature. The result is strangely beautiful, and many photographers, such as Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit of The Olympic City project, have made art of the abandoned structures.

But soon, the local luge association hopes, the track will host sliders once again. Clearance work on the bottom section of the track began in late June; when the initial phrase is completed, 720 meters will be restored and usable for summer luge activities.