Romania's luge athletes are back in training, with additional faces added to the Olympic programme ©FIL

The Romanian luge team has grown ahead of the new season, although it has had to improvise in response to the coronavirus pandemic disrupting preparations.

Coach Sorina Ticu has spoken about how support from the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee has allowed the Romanian Luge Federation to add more athletes to its training group.

"This year we were able to admit more athletes to the Olympic team," Ticu said.

"There are also more young athletes who are supported by our National Olympic Committee.

"Some of them will already be training to qualify for Beijing, but have set their big goals for Cortina 2026.

"Our top athletes Raluca Stramaturaru and Valentin Cretu will benefit from the IOC [International Olympic Committee] Solidarity programme, for which we are very grateful."

Romania have competed at every Winter Olympics in luge since 1980, but are yet to win a medal in the sport.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been disruptions to Romania's luge training - particularly through March and April because of travel restrictions.

Sorina Ticu will oversee the national team ahead of Beijing 2022 ©FIL
Sorina Ticu will oversee the national team ahead of Beijing 2022 ©FIL

This has lead to Zoom meetings, video analysis and WhatsApp messaging all replacing the traditional in-person training.

"We studied the different lines and steering  techniques in comparison to the world's best luge athletes," added Ticu.

"I personally worked from home and had a lot of online contact with our athletes and their families. 

"This enabled me to understand their needs and problems very well. 

"In the months May to July the situation was more relaxed and training with the athletes of the general class takes place regularly again with our coach Eugen Radu."

The junior team will start a training programme on September 6 under the guidance of coach Ioan Apostol.

Luge training sessions can currently be held in groups of six, with all participants routinely tested for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Romanian Luge Federation - which does not have an ice track at its disposal - is organising a national competition focused solely on the start, which will run from October 4 to 10.