Vancouver 2010: on two runners towards the finish
This week will be an exciting one for the world’s top lugers: they will learn about the definite line-up of all athletes in their sport at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, which will open on 12 February. Many athletes have qualified already, but some, like Bruno Banani from Tonga, cannot be sure just yet. In any case, the luge competitions, which will be staged at the Whistler Sliding Center promise to be exciting for the athletes and spectators alike.
Fast from A to B
The aim of luge racing is simple: to get from A to B on a refrigerated track as quickly as possible lying, feet first, belly up on an open, fibreglass sled. There are three competition formats: men’s and women’s singles, and the doubles. At the Winter Games the four-run format is unique, and is designed to reward consistency, endurance and mental strength over two tough days of competition.
Who said winning Olympic gold was easy?
Pulling on handles fixed in the ice, luge racers fly out of the start and use spiked gloves to gain extra acceleration before lying on their backs, feet stretched out in front of them. Steering with their legs and shoulders on a high-tech, refrigerated track with corners and steep banking, racers regularly reach speeds of over 140 km/h, with G-forces reaching over 5G. Unsurprisingly, times are measured in the thousandths of a second. Usually held over two days, the winner is the athlete with the fastest time combined over four runs. Men and women compete on the same track, although the women start from a position further down the course. The doubles event consists of two runs in a single day, with the fastest total time determining the winner.
Spectacular viewing for 12,000 spectators
Nestled in the scenic Fitzsimmons Valley on the southeast slope of Blackcomb Mountain, the Whistler Sliding Center will host the luge, bobsleigh and skeleton competitions at Vancouver. With a capacity for 12,000 spectators, the luge competition should provide spectacular viewing. Held on a 1,450m track, the elevation of the start line for the men is at 939m, and the finish at 787m, meaning the vertical drop over the course is some 152m.
A legacy for the youth
In building the Whistler Sliding Center, organisers have kept in mind effects on the environment: the track has been painted white to minimise heat absorption, and trees, where possible, have been retained to help cast shade. Located in an area with many adventure-oriented activities, after the Games the Sliding Center will operate as a centre for high-performance development, and youth and recreational club programming.
For more information about luge at the Olympic Winter Games visit: