The Luge is a winter sport or street sport (it’s included in the Winter Olympic Games).
There is a one person or two-person team that rides a flat sled lying supine (face up) and feet first. The sport is usually contested on a specially designed ice track and uses gravity to increase the sled’s speed.
Of the three Olympic sliding sports, which include bobsleigh and skeleton, luge is the fastest and most dangerous. Lugers can reach speeds of 140 km per hour (87 mph). Lugers compete against a timer and are timed to a thousandth of a second, making luge one of the most precisely timed sports in the world.
Steering is done by flexing the sled’s runners by using the calf of each leg or exerting opposite shoulder pressure to the seat. Luge racing sleds weigh between 21-25 kilograms (46-55 lbs.) for singles and 25-30 kilograms (55-66 lbs.) for doubles.
There are four luge disciplines.
- Men’s singles
- Men’s doubles
- Women’s singles
- Team Relay (Olympic discipline starting in 2014)
Prior to a race the athlete must be weighed as the athlete is entitled to carry extra weight on their body while sliding. Men may use additional weight amounting to 75% of the difference between body weight and a base weight of 90 kg, women 50%.
Men’s singles consist of four runs, whereas women’s singles and doubles competitions consist of two runs and the cumulative time of all runs is used to determine finish order.
The temperature of the sled’s steel blades is checked and cannot be more than 5°C above that of a previously established control temperature. Once an athlete is ready to go they are audibly notified that the track is clear, a tone sounds and the athlete has 30 seconds to begin their run. A run becomes official when an athlete and their sled crosses the finish line. If the athlete and sled are not within contact of one another the athlete is disqualified from further competition.