The Mechanisms of a Luge. Sliding (not “luging”) is an Olympic event in which a competitor races down an icy course, feet first, on a brakeless fibreglass sled.
Luge can be played on either a natural track or an artificial track.
Luge races on a natural track (naturbahn) are run on a surface of compacted snow and ice.
Any natural luge track will have a maximum slope of 1.5 percent (approximately 1 degree), which translates to a maximum elevation change of 1.5 feet per 100 feet (30 metres) of track (45 centimeters). Obtain speeds of up to 50 miles per hour (80 kilometres per hour). With enough snow, anyone can create their own luge course.
The typical incline of an artificial track luge (kunstbahn) course is between 8 and 11 percent, and the track is steeper and features higher-banked corners (about 5 to 6 degrees).
On a man-made track, speeds can easily exceed 90 mph (140 kph). Fastest luge speed ever recorded was 95 mph, and it was achieved by Austrian slider Manuel Pfister (154 kilometres per hour).
Luge at the Olympics is kunstbahn; it’s not for wimps.
A British slider on the luge squad tragically passed away during a practise run two weeks before the 1964 Innsbruck Games began. Luge athletes risk catastrophic injury if they fall off the sled while travelling at 90 mph (145 kph) or faster on an ice track.
Nodar Kumaritashvili, a Georgian sledder, killed in 2010 after losing control of his sled during Olympic training in Vancouver. Out of control, he careened off the track and crashed into a metal pole.
Artificial luge tracks like those used at the Olympics are massive, high-tech marvels. Fewer than two-dozen artificial luge tracks may be found around the globe.
It’s Possible to Artificially Cool an Olympic Track.
Evaporators are often embedded in the concrete of the track, which is made of reinforced concrete. The track temperature is reduced to 12 degrees Fahrenheit thanks to the evaporators (-11 degrees Celsius). The water is sprayed onto the track to generate an ice thickness of around 2 inches (5 centimetres).
Luge courses are typically shorter than 1 mile (1.6 km) and feature dips of 300 to 400 feet (90 to 120 metres) in just one minute.
At least one S-type curve combination, such as the “labyrinth,” is included in the layout, which consists of three or four consecutive bends with no straightaways in between them.
The layout also features straightaways, left and right turns, downhills (and sometimes a short uphill), and downhills.
The bobsled, luge, and skeleton sports at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing will be held on a track in Yanqing that is 5,298 feet (1,615 metres) in length and has a maximum slope of 16 percent.
It has 16 bends in it, including the first ever Kreisel turn, which is 360 degrees in circumference (“kreisel” is the loose German translation for “circle”).
Men’s singles is held on a course that is 0.84 miles (1,352 metres) in length, while women’s singles and doubles take place on a course that is 0.75 miles in length (approximately 1,207 meters).
It takes a highly trained athlete just to keep their balance on the sled. However, sliders must do more than simply stay on the sled; they must also have a rigidly aerodynamic shape, watch their direction, and attempt to keep the sled in the “sweet spot” that will carry them smoothly between turns—all while enduring up to 6 Gs on the most challenging courses.
Sliding is a dangerous sport, but sliders use remarkably little protective gear. The luge apparatus is the subject of the following section’s analysis.