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What is the Luge?

Luge Sled
Bottom of the Luge sled
Luge Front
Luge, side view
Luge, bottom view
Luge, front view
(more details about the luge sled at http://www.luge.com/sleds/sledfrm.htm )


A Curve at a Luge Course
    The Luge is essentially a sled race.  A group of racers each go down a long, half-pipe-like track on a special kind of sled, called a 'luge', and the racer who goes from the starting line at the top to the bottom of the course in the shortest period of time wins.  The race is all downhill, and on ice, so the goal is to get moving as fast as possible while still staying on the course.
Map of the Lake Placid luge course
    Luges have two metal cufin, or runners, underneath a small platform, on which the luger sits.  The runners are bowed slightly so that only a small portion of each runner actually touches the ice at any given time.  By leaning over, a luger is able to shift his or her weight and adjust which portion of the runner is touching the ice on either side; this causes the luge to turn.

    The picture on the left, and the map on the right, are from the Lake Placid luge course; this is a fairly typical competition course.  It is steep, and it has very sharp turns.  A luger must have very fast reflexes, and be well-trained, to even stay on the track.

(more detail and description at http://www.luge.com/tracks/LakePlac/trackfrm.htm )