The Luge Competition at the Winter Olympics - dummies

The Luge Competition at the Winter Olympics

Luge is one of the sledding events of the Winter Olympics, along with bobsleigh and skeleton. Luge sliders lie on their backs on a flat sled that careens down the track at nearly 140 kilometers per hour. The high speeds, inherent danger, and close finishes make luge a fascinating sport to watch.

Luge, named after the French word for sled, originated as a sport in the 19th century in Switzerland, along with most of the sliding sports. Luge remained a primarily Swizz sport until the early 20th century when it began spreading across Europe. In spite of its popularity, luge wasn’t added to the Winter Olympics until the 1964 games in Innsbruck.

The racers use the same track that is used for both bobsleigh and skeleton. Racers begin by sitting on their fiberglass sleds and gripping handles that are embedded in the ice track. The pull on these handles to give themselves a starting push and then dig into the ice with their spiked gloves to build momentum. Once they’ve got some speed they lie flat on the sled and steer using body movements in their legs, shoulders and head. If they need to brake, they can use their feet, pull up on the runners, or simply sit up.

The luger must take off shortly after being told that the track is clear and he or she must finish the race with the sled in sliding position. If for some reason the luger stops during the race, they may reposition themselves and continue the race until, but if a luger is touched by a member of the track crew or even a fan, he or she is disqualified.

The Olympics hosts three luge events: a men’s single, a women’s single and a doubles event. In the singles event, there are four heats over the course of two days. The four times are combined together and the person with the fastest time wins.

Technically, the doubles event is one of the Olympics sports that allows mixed (men and women) teams, but is almost always a raced by two men. This event contains two runs, both on the same day. These times are combined to determine the winner.