Anne Abernathy (born April 12, 1953) is an Olympic Athlete from the United States Virgin Islands. Anne most recently competed in the Torino Games in 2006 marking the sixth time she appeared in Winter Olympic competition. Anne is the oldest female athlete to compete in the Winter Olympics and now has her sights set on a new Olympic challenge: qualifying and competing in a new sport in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

Born into a military family in Northwest Florida, Anne has lived most of her adult life in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She earned a music scholarship to the University of Texas and went on to become a successful, professional entertainer singing and playing guitar in famous venues such as the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas and recording commercial jingles like the famous Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum "Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun". It wasn’t until Anne took a trip to Lake Placid in the early 80’s that she ever considered doing anything else. It was there that she was introduced to a sport she didn’t even know how to pronounce—luge. Witnessing an athlete slicing down an icy track at close to 90 mph sparked an interest in Anne that ultimately led to her remarkable Winter Olympic Games career spanning nearly three decades.

After six Olympics, records as the oldest female athlete to compete in the Winter Games, year after year of grueling training, punishing crashes, dozens of broken bones and surgeries and uncounted hours of rehabilitation, Anne has decided it’s time for a new target. Now in her 60s, Anne has decided to leave winter Olympic competition... and qualify for a new Olympic sport in the Summer Games! Returning to a sport she first picked up as a college student, Anne is now working toward qualifying in Archery.

Anne Abernathy is a woman of extraordinary courage. She has successfully battled a returning cancer, recovered from a traumatic head injury resulting from a luge crash, and overcome the devastating loss of her home to a hurricane. She did this all while competing at the highest level of a sport whose athletes are usually retired from competition before they ever reach the age that Anne was when she started competing! Anne was a consistent Word Cup and international competitor with multiple podium finishes and top world rankings.

At the age of 40 and preparing for her third Olympic Games, fellow athletes began affectionately calling Anne “Grandma Luge” in honor of her success in a sport that was believed to be reserved for young athletes. Anne embraced the nickname and in the 2006 Torino Games at the age of 52, was on the start list against a 16-year-old, setting the record for the greatest age difference in an Olympic event.

In January 2001, Anne suffered a serious accident during a World Cup race in Altenberg, Germany. The luge crash left Anne with a severe brain injury—an injury that had most doctors recommending she retire. Remarkably, Anne was able to regain normal brain function through ground-breaking neuro-biofeedback therapy techniques that allowed her to retrain her brainwaves. The aggressive rehabilitation enabled Anne to return to competition in time to qualify for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. The story of Anne’s crash, injury and rehabilitation was documented on the Discovery Health Channel series, "Impact: Stories of Survival."

Anne is an Olympic Village favorite among all athletes around the world and was named Athletes International 2004 Olympic Athlete of the Year in recognition of her achievements as an athlete and motivator. The International Olympic Committee took notice of her passion and enthusiasm and awarded her the Women and Sport Achievement Diploma for promoting the development and participation of women and girls in sport. Anne is respected as a leader and has held elected positions within the International Luge Federation (FIL). Even as an athlete she was also an international Team Manager representing multiple nations. The FIL presented her with the Medal of Honor for exceptional contributions to the development of the sport of luge.

Anne has been featured in a number of books and has written chapters for many as well. Most recently, Anne released her own book in June 2012 titled Summer Olympic Sports. You can find Summer Olympic Sports and all other books Anne is featured in on Amazon.com.

Women of
True Grit

Summer Olympic

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World Records

About Anne
Book Anne
Grandma Luge's Crash
Grandma's Six Winter Olympics







Photo courtesy of Dean Villanueva.

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