Luge at the Beijing Olympics
Focus on the luge events at the Beijing Olympics.
THE ABSOLUTE BASICS
*The fastest sport in the Olympics, a single rider goes feet-first and face-up, steering themselves down a special track with their calf muscles and shoulders down, at speeds of more than 130 kilometres an hour.
*There are four disciplines, with men’s singles and doubles, women’s singles, and the team relay in which both sexes can compete although it tends to be men.
*Germany has dominated the sport, cleaning up 18 gold, 10 silver and nine bronze medals in past tournaments.
HOW MANY MEDALS?
There are four gold medals up for grabs: two each for the men’s and women’s singles, one for the men’s doubles, and one for the team relay.
WHAT HAPPENED IN PYEONGCHANG?
German domination. The “Bayern Express” of Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt won their second consecutive gold in the men’s doubles. Germany won the relay, while Germany’s Natalie Geisenberg took gold in the women’s singles. Austria’s David Gleirscher took gold in the men’s singles.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN BEIJING?
Germany will be the team to beat again, though Austria’s Gleirscher was strong in last year’s World Championships. Geisenberg, already the most decorated female luger in Olympic history, will be looking to pick up a third successive medal.
China’s luge team will be making its Olympic debut on home turf after starting from scratch in 2015. It is coached by Liechtenstein’s Wolfgang Schädler, who was in charge of the USA team for 24 years. He was about to retire before being approached for this unique challenge.
WHEN IS IT HAPPENING?
Luge events will take place between Feb. 5 and 10.
WHERE IS IT HAPPENING?
The sliding events are being held at the newly constructed Yanqing National Sliding Centre, in a mountainous area 74 kilometres northwest of Beijing.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Luge, the French word for a small sled, has been around for centuries, but it started to enter its modern form with dedicated tracks in Swiss resort towns in the 19th century. The sport made its Olympic debut in 1964.
WELL FANCY THAT
When Italy’s Armin Zöggeler won bronze in Sochi in 2014, the then 40-year old became the first athlete in history to win six medals at six consecutive Olympic Games. A policeman when not competing in the sport, Zöggeler’s success earned him the nickname “the cannibal.”
(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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