Luge, the French word for "sled," is one of three sliding sports in the Winter Olympic Games. Luge racers use open fiberglass sleds that can speed along at up to 90 miles per hour. It became an Olympic sport at the 1964 Winter Games in Austria. There are three luge events in the Games: men's singles, women's singles, and doubles. All events are held on the same track, but the women's and doubles races start further down the track.
The Rules of the Game
For a quick start, racers begin by sitting on their sleds and pushing off using handles fixed into the ice. Lugers wear spiked gloves, which they use on the surface of the ice to gain extra acceleration. The athletes use their legs and shoulders to steer while lying down on their backs, feet first. Racers must keep their bodies relaxed to help maintain speed and direction.
In the Winter Games, the men's singles and women's singles consist of four races over two days. The luger with the fastest combined time over the four runs wins. The doubles event is held with two races in one day. The fastest combined score for the two races wins the gold. Every split-second counts! All three events are timed to the thousandth of a second.