Olympic Briefing: The Luge

Press Clippings: One of the more unusual downhill sports at the upcoming Olympics is the Luge. No doubt you’ve seen it before and said…”what the hell?”.
The luge is a small sled that can hold one or two people and is used to run a prepared course, down an icey chute, much like a bobsled run. The luge is best known as the sled on which the riders go down the course feet first, unlike the Flexible Flyer sleds that some people used growing up in which you went head first down the course.
Steered by flexing the sled’srunners by shifting body weight and nimble application of calf muscles, the luge seems like an accident waiting to happen. Hence our fascination.
The feet- first body position puts a premium on “visualizing” the course prior to making your run (it’s too late to make corrections when you’re going down the shaft) and mistakes can be fatal–in the 2010 Olympics held in Canada, Luger Nodar Kumaritashvii,  who represented the Republic of Georgia at the games,  was killed on his last practice run down the course.
So it’s serious business, no matter how funny it might look (especially the doubles, where one luger lays on top of another…wonder how the Russkies will handle that).
Luges  can hit very high speeds: Austrian Manuel Pfister went 95.69MPH on the same track in Canada at Whistler prior to the 2010 Olympics.
There will be four classes of luge competition at the Sochi Olympics: mens’s singles and doubles, women’s singles, and a new discipline, Team Relay (new for 2014) which I have no clue about how it looks or works (it’s new ). More detail on the luge in this luge wiki
Anyway you look at it–and I’m going to give you a total immersion course– luge is a very exciting and  very scary sport.  But to really get into the spirit,  take a look at this POV(point of view ) video (above) shot a few years ago on a luge run. It will give you a great appreciation to what the athletes are experiencing in their sub-2 minute runs.
And finally–check out this luge video that covers the necessary training for an Olympian. If you like what you see–maybe you could be/should be a luger.

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