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Luge 101

If you don't want to be a biffer, you'd better know your kufens from your steels. Or, in layman's terms, to avoid hitting the icy walls of the luge track, you need to know your runners from your blades. On the day of the men's luge finals in the 1988 Calgary Olympics, CBC Radio's Olympic Magazine discusses the finer points of luge, and debates the common perception that it's a dangerous sport where only crazy competitors need apply.
• According to the Canadian Luge Association, the sport began in Switzerland in the late 1800s, but Canadians did not compete until the 1950s. Canada's first luge champion was Vic Emery, who also won Canada's first Olympic bobsleigh medal in 1964, the year luge became an Olympic event.
  • Canada's first Olympic luge team debuted at the 1968 Olympics. Europeans have dominated the sport, and no Canadian has ever won an Olympic luge medal.

• At the Calgary 1988 Olympics men's singles luge competition, which took place the day this clip aired, the winners were Jens Müller of East Germany (gold), West Germany's Georg Hackl (silver) and Soviet Yuri Kharchenko (bronze).

More luge terminology:
• Labyrinth: A twisty section of the track with no straight section between the series of left and right curves.
• Paddling: When a slider uses spiked gloves to accelerate at the beginning of the race.
• Crank: Using extra pressure to steer the sled.
• Sturz: Crash (German).

Medium: Radio
Program: Olympic Magazine
Broadcast Date: Feb. 15, 1988
Host: Mark Lee, Liz Palmer
Reporter: Eric Dwyer
Duration: 5:11
Photo: Douglas C. Pizac/Associated Press

Last updated: February 14, 2014

Page consulted on February 14, 2014

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