Luge was first included in the Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck in 1964 and has remained on the programme ever since. The men’s and women’s singles competitions are decided on the aggregate time of four runs over two consecutive days, while the doubles is a one-day competition of two runs.
Sochi 2014 will also feature the debut of the mixed team relay event, which will see each country field a men’s singles sled, a doubles sled and a women’s singles sled. All three sleds will slide down the track, one after another, with the clock stopping only after the third sled has crossed the finish line. A touch pad at the finish line must be activated by an athlete in one sled before the gate at the start line opens for the following sled.
Athletes to watch in Sochi
Germany enjoyed a clean sweep of the 2013 World Cup titles, with reigning Olympic champion Felix Loch and 2013 world champion Natalie Geisenberger claiming the men’s and women’s crowns respectively, while Tobias Wendl and Tobias Artl topped the doubles standings. Although each of those is likely to start as gold medal favourites in Sochi, there are plenty of other athletes capable of topping the podium.
Loch’s compatriots, Olympic silver medallist David Möller and World Championship silver medallist Andi Langenhan, are both likely to figure prominently in Sochi, while Italian legend Armin Zöggeler will be aiming to become the first athlete to win six medals at six different Winter Games. Germany’s Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken are also likely to challenge their compatriots Wendl and Artl in the doubles, while Austrian brothers – and double Olympic champions – Andreas and Wolfgang Linger will not give up their Olympic title without a fight.
In the women’s singles, Geisenberger will have to duel it out with teammate and reigning Olympic champion Tatjana Hüfner for the gold, with Russian hopes resting on World Championship silver medallist Tatiana Ivanova.
Germany’s Georg Hackl is the most successful luger in Olympic history, having won five medals, including men’s singles gold at three successive Games between 1992 and 1998. Following his silver medal in 2002, he became the first Winter Olympian to win a medal in five consecutive Games, and went in search of a sixth in Torino in 2006, where he finished seventh. Perhaps Hackl’s finest performance came in Nagano in 1998, when he won the gold by clocking the fastest time in all four runs, becoming the first male luger in Olympic history to do so.
With two golds, one silver and two bronzes between 1994 and 2010, Armin Zöggeler also has five Olympic medals and is the only Italian athlete to have won a medal in five consecutive Games.
Germany’s Silke Kraushaar, meanwhile, is the most decorated athlete in the women’s event, winning gold in 1998, a silver in 2006, and a bronze in 2002.