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The Sled
Luge is the French word for sled. In the Olympic context it means barreling down an iced track in excess of 85 miles per hour.

For years it was the only Winter Olympic sport measured to the thousandth of a second. Yet in the 1998 Olympics in the women's luge competition after a combined time of 4 runs of nearly of mile each, the difference between first and second place was only two thousandths of a second! It is considered the fastest sport on ice.
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Basically the sled is composed of two runners with steel blades held together with two bridges. There is a fiberglass pod or seat on top. Generally the maximum weight of the sled is between 23-25K or 50-55 pounds.

Unlike bobsled, no brakes or mechanical steering is allowed. There is no support for the head, neck or legs. The athletes take their runs feet first steering the sled by brut strength using the hands, arms, shoulders, legs and head or a combination of these depending upon the curve, speed and other factors.

The Athlete
All competitors must wear the same brand of safety helmet and visor. In fact all of the helmets are the same on the outside and are fitted by size only by the amount of padding on the inside. This ensures that no one will have an aerodynamic advantage.
In addition to a custom made sport specific racing suit, the athlete wears luge booties which must be manufactured to strict safety and aerodynamic regulations.

The start in luge is from a sitting position. The athletes pull off a set of handles and then use finger or knuckle spikes which are attached to the gloves to propel themselves down the start ramp.

The entire body is used to propel and steer the luge. So off-season overall strength conditioning is essential.

The Track
Each luge track is different. All of the modern tracks are now combined bobsled, luge and skeleton runs with different starts for the various disciplines. Generally a track is close to a mile long with 15-20 curves. There are several curve combinations that are required including a labyrinth as well as either an omega or kreisel. A kreisel is a 360 degree curve.

There are three luge disciplines, men's singles, women's singles and doubles. The doubles sleds can be any combination of two men and women, although there has yet to be a women's or mixed doubles sled in World Cup or Olympic competition.

The men's start is normally a higher on the track than the women's or double's start.

IOC For More Information See: Olympic.org and FIL Link

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