Sochi Winter Olympics: All you need to know about luge

Feb 07, 2014, 09:04 IST | A Correspondent

With the Sochi Games starting today, we give you a lowdown on the sport that will see India's most prominent winter Olympian and luger Shiva Keshavan bid for gold

Riders wear specially designed suits to reduce wind resistance.

Shiva Keshavan
Shiva Keshavan 

Riders wear special shoes that typically have firm, smooth outer soles. The luge shoes are often called Calypso.

Riders wear helmets with clear or tinted visors that extend under the chin to reduce resistance.

Luge gloves are spiked at the fingertips to assist riders as they accelerate at the start.

Shiva's track record
India's Shiva Keshavan, who will be participating in his fifth Olympics at Sochi, holds the Asian speed record at 134.3 km/hr. Shiva will be participating as an independent athlete this time given IOA's suspension. The 1998 Winter Olympics were Shiva's first Olympics. Shiva, then aged 16, became the youngest person ever to take part in the luge.

Whar is luge?
Luge, regarded as one of the most dangerous sports at the winter Olympics, involves sliding at high speeds (sometimes touching speeds of 140 km/h) on single or two-person sleds on a special track of artificially frozen ice. An athlete or athletes start in a seating position and after pushing off using their hands, lie down on their back on the sled with their feet stretched out in front of them. The riders then steer the sled by moving their centre of gravity and brake by sitting up, putting their feet down and pulling up on the sled runners.

Did you know?
Luge is the only one of the sliding sports that is timed to one thousandth of a second! The world luge speed record is held by Tony Benshoof of the United States who clocked 86.93mph (139.9kmph) in

The venue
At the Sochi Games, the Sliding Center 'Sanki' will host the luge, bobsleigh and skeleton events. Sanki, located at the Alpika Service Mountain Ski Resort, is a 5,000 seat facility. The nearly 2-kilometer-long track will be about 10 mph slower than the one used at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Olympic History
Luge, meaning sled in French, was played as early as AD 800 by Vikings in the Slagen countryside near the Oslo Fjord. Vikings are believed to have used sleds with two runners closely resembling the modern-day version. The first modern luge course was built in 1879 at Davos in Switzerland. Luge made its Olympic debut at the Innsbruck Olympic Winter Games in 1964. There are three classes of Olympic competition: singles men, singles women and doubles. In addition at Sochi, there will be a relaycompetition for the first time.

The favourite
Since its Olympic debut, luge has been dominated by German athletes, who have won medals at every Winter Games with the exception of 1964. In the men's event this year, Felix Loch, who became the youngest ever luge gold medallist when he won in Vancouver as a 20-year-old, is the favourite to defend his title having also captured back-to-back world titles in 2012 and 2013.

Shiva's Olympic schedule
8 Feb 20:00 Men's Singles Run 1 22:10 Men's Singles Run 2
9 Feb 20:00 Men's Singles Run 3 22:10 Men's Singles Run 4

Other luge events
The women's singles event will be held on Feb 10th and 11th, while the doubles run is scheduled for the
Feb 12th. The team relay competition will be on the 13th.

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