Luge at the Youth Olympic Games: What you need to know

The most precise sliding sport is coming to Lausanne 2020.

By Michael Hincks ·

After reaching the most breath-taking of speeds, Luge comes down to the finest of margins.

Lugers can clock speeds of up to 140km/h, but races can be won or lost by a millisecond, and that is what makes luge so gripping to watch.

The thrilling sport will be on display at Lausanne 2020, and you will be able to watch the Youth Olympic Games this January on the Olympic Channel.

With the women’s doubles added to the programme, it is set to be an action-packed affair over in St Moritz, which will also host the bobsleigh and skeleton on the sustainable track.

Scroll down to read more about the competition, and discover why luge is the most precise sliding sport in town.

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How to watch Luge at the Youth Olympic Games

Olympic Channel will stream 300 hours of action from the 13 days of competition in Lausanne 2020 with a dedicated Winter YOG channel available on olympicchannel.com, YouTube and connected devices such as Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Android TV and Roku.

There will be an action-packed daily live show featuring news, highlights, trending stories and interviews in a fun and interactive format streamed on Facebook, Twitter and olympicchannel.com, plus a daily Olympic Channel Podcast featuring insightful interviews with personalities from across the Olympic world.

Fans can also follow Olympic Channel's coverage on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to learn more about the event, while a full schedule of events - including online streaming details can be found here.

Luge location and dates

The luge takes place in St Moritz from January 17-20 at Lausanne 2020. (Scroll down for full schedule)

events

9 - 22 Jan

Lausanne 2020 | Youth Olympic Games

Switzerland

The disciplines of luge

Luge has been an Olympic event since 1964, with a men’s, women’s and doubles event taking place at every Games before the team relay was added at Sochi 2014.

At the Youth Olympic Games for Lausanne 2020, women’s doubles joins the programme for the very first time, joining men’s singles and doubles, women’s singles, and the team relay in the schedule.

The intricacies behind the sport of Luge

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The singles events consist of two runs, with the fastest combined time winning.

That is also the case for the doubles, where intriguingly it is the heavier of the two athletes who lies on top of their team-mate for better aerodynamics.

The team relay consists of one women’s sled, one men’s sled and a double’s sled.

The team relay is exciting to watch as it uses a continuous clock. That means the next sled is only able to start its run once the rider before them has touched a pad at the finish line. Unsurprisingly, the team with the fastest total time wins.

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The finest of margins

In luge, every millisecond counts. Really.

It is one of the most precisely timed Olympic sports, and that has led to some agonisingly close finishes over the years.

At Nagano 1998, Silke Kraushaar beat her German team-mate Barbara Niedernhuber to gold after finishing just 0.002 seconds following four runs.

More recently at Pyeongchang 2018, Germany’s Johannes Ludwig claimed bronze, with Dominik Fischnaller just 0.002 seconds behind.

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All in the calves and shoulders

After a sitting start, which sees riders grip two handles to launch themselves, it is all down to the body when it comes to steering.

Subtlety is key, with athletes applying pressure to the front of their sled (the runner) using their calves, depending on which way they want to turn.

The shoulders also come into play if a rider needs to shift their bodyweight over ever so slightly.

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Why luge is quicker than skeleton

Would you rather go down an icy track feet-first, face-up? Or head-first, face-down?

Well if you have a need for speed, then it is luge which just edges out skeleton.

That is because travelling feet-first creates less drag, with the helmet of a skeleton rider providing a greater surface area, and thus slowing them down. Albeit only slight.

Luge sleds are also lighter, weighing between 20-30kg, while in skeleton they can weight up to 45kg.

At the most recent luge world championships, The Washington Post reported the winner averaged 81.3 mph (130.8 km/h) compared to 71.9 mph (115.7 km/h) at the skeleton world championships.

Luge at Lausanne 2020

Friday, January 17

08:30 - 10:30 - Women's Singles
11:00 - 12:30 - Men's Doubles

Saturday, January 18

08:30 - 10:30 - Men's Singles
11:00 - 12:30 - Women's Doubles

Monday, January 20

08:30 - 11:00 - Team Relay