What's it all about?
Imagine a sled shaped like a kickboard, but made of steel with two big blades. Now imagine yourself lying down on it and going super fast! If you're thinking "Yeah, that sounds pretty doable. Might be kind of cool!” then you should check out luge.
How it's played
The sport: Luge is one of three sled events at the Winter Olympics. It's an exciting sport for daredevils where athletes lay on their backs on small sleds.
The events: There are four events — men's, women's, doubles and team relay. The luge usually holds one athlete except in doubles, where two athletes race on the same sled.
The equipment: A slippery ice track full of turns, protective gear and a special sled with steel runners. (See pictures below.)
The strategy: It's all about time. Zoom down an icy track while going at least 130 kilometres per hour and make it to the finish faster than your competitors.
The points: It's a super fast sport so events are timed to the thousandth of a second (0.001). Fastest time after one or two runs, depending on the event, wins the gold.
The athletes: Because a luger's head and feet hang off the sled, they need strong neck, upper body, abdominal and thigh muscles. Those come in handy when steering with their calves.
Did you know? A luge can slide down the track at speeds of about 140 kilometres per hour — and there are no brakes!
Things to watch for
- Lugers need to keep their toes pointed throughout the race.
- They wear special boots that help keep their feet and legs locked in a straight position.
- Doubles luge has two athletes on the same specially-designed sled.
- The heavier athlete lies on top of their partner to help the air move smoothly across their bodies for speed.
- The athlete on top can steer the sled with their calves.
- The parts of the luge that curl up at the front are called runners.
- Athletes can use their calves to push on them to help steer the sled.
Luge started in Switzerland and it's one of the oldest winter sports.
One way to cheat in luge is by heating the steel blades before the run — it reduces the friction on the ice and makes the luge go faster.
In doubles luge, the lighter athlete lies on top of the heavier one so that air can flow better over their bodies.
Athletes that compete in luge are called lugers.