2010-02-08 18:28 BJT

Two athletes — Peter Minsch of Switzerland and George Robertson of Australia — tied for first place in what was called “The Great International Sled Race” of February 12, 1883. Their time: 9 minutes and 15 seconds, to slide down a four kilometre track joining the Swiss villages of Klosters and Davos.

Luge races have grown considerably faster since then with refrigerated luge tracks and aerodynamic equipment, so that speeds now regularly reach 140 kilometres an hour or more and G-forces reach over 5G.

Luge for men, women and doubles made its Olympic debut at the 1964 Games in Innsbruck.

How it Works

In luge (the French word for “sled”), racers begin by sitting on open fibreglass sleds. Pulling on fixed handles in the ice, they burst out of the start. After this explosive start, they use spiked gloves on the ice surface for extra acceleration before lying down on their backs, feet stretched out in front of them, heads back to be as aerodynamic as possible. Luge racers steer using their legs and shoulders, and brake by sitting up, putting their feet down and pulling up on the sled runners.

The singles events consist of four heats over two days. The individual with the lowest combined time over the four runs wins. Men and women compete on the same track, but the women and doubles begin further down the course. The four-run format is unique to the Olympic Winter Games and designed to reward consistency, endurance and ability to withstand pressure - particularly on the second day.

The doubles event consists of two runs over one day, with the fastest total time determining the winner. All events in luge are timed to the thousandth of a second.

Editor: Zhang Pengfei | Source: