Luge at the 2018 Olympics: Everything You Need to Know
Luge flying in Pyeongchang. The men’s singles are over, with the US team’s Chris Mazdzer taking the silver medal. The winners of the women’s singles and doubles will be announced on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the team relay on Thursday. So what the hell is luge in preparation?
How is it assessed?
This is pretty much what it sounds like: tobogganing as fast as possible. Fansided explains that in singles, each rider does four runs in two days. You seem to have a lot of time when you hit 80mph! Their time on each ride is added up, and the winner is the person with the fastest cumulative mileage. Men start shooting further upward, covering 0.84 miles, and women – 0.75 miles.
It’s the same with doubles, when a couple is stuffed into a sled, but they only get two runs in one day.
Relays are more complex. The team consists of men’s singles, women’s singles and doubles. They all start at 0.75 mile by parachute, and as they pass the finish line, the sled pushes the touchpad, which sends the next round. The winner is the team that crosses the finish line least of all. (A bit sinister, one rule is that “the rider must touch the sled” when they cross the finish line. You definitely don’t want to fall off the sled going so fast.) The team relay has only been an event since 2010. Maybe people are tired of going to the Olympics and doing it in a matter of seconds?
How do they do it?
It’s not just sledding. Moving so fast requires not only a perfectly calibrated Olympic parachute, but also specialized equipment and special skills. According to the New York Times, riders start to sit and push with their hands with special ice spikes. They then need to navigate using the extremely powerful calf muscles. They may seem like they are lying clinging to their lives, but in fact, this is a very accurate skill. And it’s dangerous if something goes wrong: Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia was killed during a training race in 2010 when his sled flew off the track.
Who are we rooting for?
This year, Mazdzer became the first person in US history to win a medal in the men’s singles luge competition. That’s 54 years of America’s losses in the men’s luge division – Erin Hamlin broke that losing record for women four years ago. It was only the sixth medal ever won by the US luge team. Are we too careless about sledding?
There is nothing random about the way this time is recorded. Roman Repilov, an Olympic athlete from Russia, was just 0.001 seconds ahead of Mazdzer in their first run. He caught up in the following races.
For now, it looks like Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger is poised to win the gold medal in the women’s singles. Erin Hamlin is back, but it looks like she won’t be winning a medal this year as she is now in fifth place. However, it still ranks first among competitors in the United States. However, the essence of luge is that no matter who is in front, it really only takes a couple of seconds to make huge strides.
Check out the rest of the competition schedule here and tune in for the evening to see if Germany will take over women’s singles.