Beijing 2022 Bluffer's Guide: Luge

By Ned Kelly, January 29, 2022

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What is it?

One of two launch-yourself-down-a-frozen-track-on-a-glorified-baking-tray events in the Winter Olympics, what luge lacks in the psycho skeleton headfirst stakes, it makes up for in pure speed; the fastest of the three sliding disciplines, a top velocity of 154 kilometers per hour has been recorded in this lighting on an icy surface sport.

It is so fast, in fact, that it is one of the most precisely timed in the world – with runs recorded to one thousandth of a second.

A luger steers by using the calf muscles to flex the sled's runners, or by exerting opposite shoulder pressure to the seat, and strength training is essential to withstand the extreme G-forces of tight turns at high speeds.

Little protection is afforded to endure the physical pounding administered by the track other than a visor and helmet, and four athletes have died in preparation for a Winter Olympics.

Four luge events will be held at the 2022 Winter Olympics – men's singles, women's singles, doubles and team relay – with 12 medals up for grabs.

All events take place on the first sliding track in China. Brand new, it is the first in the world to include a 360-degree turn.

In the singles competition, each rider gets four runs over the course of two days. The times are then added together, and the athlete with the fastest total time the winner, meaning every run counts.

The doubles competition takes place in a single day, with each pair getting two runs, and the pair with the fastest cumulative time taking gold.

The team relay is a relatively new addition to the Olympic program, after making its debut at Sochi 2014, and involves three sledges – women’s singles, men’s singles and doubles – making their runs in that order; when each sled finishes its run the athlete strikes an overhead touchpad at the bottom of the track which opens the gate and allows the next sled to begin. The winner is the team with the fastest time after the third sled crosses the finish line.

When is it?

February 4-10

Where is it?

National Sliding Center, Yanqing Zone.

Who’s gonna win?

Felix Loch of Germany is among the top names to look out for in Beijing, and with good reason. The German is a triple Olympic gold medalist and six-time world champion.

Loch blew his chance to win a record third successive Olympic gold medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics though, making a mistake on his final run and finishing fifth.

Austrian David Gleirscher stunned the luge world after picking up that gold in Pyeongchang, and will be hoping Loch is out of luck again in Beijing.

The women’s event is dominated by the Germans, with 2018 Olympic champion Natalie Geisenberger remaining the dominating force; with four gold medals and a bronze, she is the most decorated female luger in Olympic history.

Can she win a third successive women's singles gold in Beijing? Her teammates Dajana Eitberger (Pyeongchang silver medalist) and Julia Taubitz (2021 World Champion) will be hoping to deny her that glory.

The doubles has been dominated by German pair Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt in recent times; they won gold in Sochi in 2014 and PyeongChang in 2018. Like Geisenberger, they could make history in Beijing by becoming the first pair to win three consecutive gold medals.

As for the team relay, you guessed it – Germany has picked up the last two Olympic golds. Their biggest challenge will likely come from reigning World Champions Austria (Germany finished second in that).

What about China?

While we wish China the best of luck in the luge, we are afraid to say that – by virtue of not being German – they are unlikely to win.

Check out all 15 events in our Beijing 2022 Bluffer's Guide by scanning the QR code:

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[Cover image via Wiki]

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