Luge competition at the Olympics consists of four events:
- Men’s singles
- Women’s singles
- Team relay
At the 2022 Beijing Games, each nation belonging to the International Luge Federation (FIL) may enter a maximum of three men, three women, two doubles teams, and one relay team (one man, one woman, and one doubles team, entered in their individual disciplines). There will be no more than 106 luge athletes at the Games. There is no fixed cap on the number of participants in each event.
In men’s and women’s singles, athletes take four runs down the track. The four times are added, and the fastest total time determines the winner. The competition takes two days to complete (two runs per day). The four-run format is unique to the Olympic Winter Games and is designed to reward consistency, endurance, and ability to withstand pressure — particularly on the second day. (At most events, such as the world championships and World Cup races, singles are contested over two runs).
Men and women compete on the same track, though the women start from a position further down the course. At the Olympic Sliding Center, the men’s course is approximately .84 miles (1344m); the women’s and doubles course is .75 miles (1201m).
Start Order: The World Cup point rankings of the three previous World Cup races are used to determine the seeded groups for the first two runs, and draws take place within each group. For runs three and four, the start order is determined by results from the previous runs. The start order for singles is as follows (women’s singles will not have a Group D unless quotas are adjusted). The A group is further divided into athletes ranked 1-6 and 7-12, and a separate draw will take place in each group. *Numbers correspond to draw picks within each group, not World Cup ranks.
The start order for men’s and women’s singles is as follows:
First run: Group A (1-12), Group B (13-24), Group C (25-36), The Rest (37-end)
Second run: Group A (12-1), Group B (24-13), Group C (36-25), The Rest (end-37)
Third Run: 1st to last place according to combined times after two runs
Fourth Run: Last place to 1st place according to combined times after three runs, with only the top 20 athletes qualifying for the fourth run.
In luge, only one sled is permitted on the course at a time. There are no fixed start intervals. Once the signal, “track is clear” is given, the singles luger has 30 seconds to begin.
Pre-Race Checks: At the start of all four singles runs, each athlete is weighed with his sled, and temperatures of sled runners (the blades of the sled that come in contact with the ice) are compared to an official “control” runner.
1) In singles, the sled must weigh between 21kg (46.3 lbs) and 25kg (55.1 lbs).
2) There is no maximum weight for athletes. But men who weigh less than 90kg (198 lbs) may add up to 13kg (28.6 lbs) of additional weight to act as ballast. Women who weigh less than 75kg (165 lbs) are allowed to add up to 10kg (22 lbs) of extra weight. The formulas below determine how much weight may be added:
MEN: 90kg – body weight = Additional Weight (max 13kg)
WOMEN: 75kg – body weight = Additional Weight (max 10kg)
3) Also, officials check the temperature of the steel runners on an athlete’s sled to make sure they haven’t been heated. (Warm runners are not allowed because the heat would decrease the friction between the runners and the ice, making the sled faster). A “control” runner, located by the start house and shaded from the sun, is used as a basis for the measurement. The competitor’s runners must be within 5 degrees Celsius of the control runner’s temperature.
Finishing: For a run to be deemed legal, an athlete must be in contact with the sled when he/she crosses the timing light at the finish line. Crossing the finish line without the sled results in immediate disqualification. If a racer crashes on course, receives no outside assistance, and still finishes with the sled unassisted, the run is counted. If an athlete crashes after the FIL marking (line) and before the finish line, he/she must reach the finish in contact with his/her sled and trigger the finish line barrier. Pushing, paddling or walking with the sled in order to reach the finish light barrier is not permitted and will lead to disqualification.
At the bottom of the course, equipment and weight are examined. After the first and third run, six racers are selected at random for “technical control.” (Three of the six athletes must come from the seeded groups). At “technical control,” sleds and athletes are re-weighed, runner temperatures are checked, and dimensions of the pod are checked. After the final run, the three medalists face “sled control” in which the whole sled is taken apart and examined by officials to check measurements and suspension systems. This ensures, for example, that no illegal dampening methods or materials are present. A failure to meet the standards results in disqualification.
Tiebreaking: Ties to the thousandth of a second, though rare, are permitted.
Doubles luge is a one-day competition in which pairs of athletes take two runs down the course. The fastest total time determines the winner. The two-run format is also used in world championships and World Cup races. There is no rule that says a doubles team must comprise members of the same sex, but traditionally, men have slid together, with the larger man positioned on top for a more aerodynamic fit.
Doubles and women’s singles share the same starting point on the track. Therefore, the Olympic Sliding Center doubles course is approximately .75 miles (1201m).
Start Order: The doubles field is divided into three starting groups. Group A consists of pairs ranked 1-12 in the World Cup based on the last three World Cup races prior to the Games. (If more than two doubles teams from a country are ranked in the top 12, the extra sleds are removed from the list and filled by sleds from other countries further down the list, because no nation may enter more than two sleds in the Olympic doubles competition). Group B consists of teams that occupy the 13-24 slots in the standings. If more than 24 doubles sleds are entered, the remaining pairs comprise a group called “the rest.” There will be a draw within each group to determine start order and bib numbers. *Numbers below correspond to draw picks within each group, not World Cup ranks.
First run: Group A (1-12), Group B (13-24), The Rest (25-end)
Second run: Last place to first place based on times from the first run.
In luge, only one sled is permitted on the course at a time. There are no fixed start intervals. Once a doubles team is given the signal, “track is clear,” it has 45 seconds to begin.
Pre-Race Checks (Doubles): At the start of both doubles runs, each sled and athlete are weighed (one member of the doubles team is weighed while holding the sled, while the other is weighed without the sled), and temperatures of sled runners are compared to an official “control” runner.
1) In doubles, the sled must weigh between 25kg (55.1 lbs) and 30kg (66.1 lbs)
2) There is no maximum weight for the pair. In fact, one or both partner(s) may be eligible to add additional weight to act as ballast.
(a) If the team’s combined weight is 180kg (396 lbs) or more, no weight is added.
(b) If the combined weight of the team is less than 180kg (396 lbs) and both athletes weigh less than 90kg, each athlete may add up to 10kg (22 lbs) of additional weight. The following formula determines how much to add:
(90kg – body weight ) x .75 = Additional Weight (max 10kg)
(c) If the combined weight of the team is less than 180kg (396 lbs) and only one athlete weighs less than 90kg (198 lbs), the lighter athlete simply adds the amount by which the heavy partner exceeds 90kg (198 lbs) as the basis for calculation for additional weight. However, the 10kg (22 lbs) maximum still applies.
3) Before the race, officials also check the temperature of the sled’s steel runners to make sure they haven’t been heated. A “control” runner, located by the start house and shaded from the sun, is used as a basis for the measurement. The competitor’s runners must be within 5 degrees Celsius of the control runner’s temperature.
Finishing: For a run to be deemed legal, both team members must be in contact with the sled when they cross the timing light at the finish line. Crossing the finish line without the sled results in immediate disqualification. If the team crashes on course and manages to finish with the sled but without receiving outside help, the run is counted. If an athlete crashes after the FIL marking (line) and before the finish line, both athletes must reach the finish in contact with their sled and trigger the finish line barrier. Pushing, paddling or walking with the sled in order to reach the finish light barrier is not permitted and will lead to disqualification.
At the bottom of the course, at the end of the first run, technical control is performed on three athletes (whose doubles partners will also be inspected); the athletes are selected at random. At this time, sleds and athletes are re-weighed, and runner temperatures are checked. After the second (final) run, sled checks are performed on the sleds of the three teams that won medals, and temperatures are checked from the top 10 athlete pairs from the first run. A failure to meet the standards results in disqualification.
Tiebreaking: See singles procedures above
The team relay will be contested for the third time at the Olympics in Beijing. Teams will be made up of three sleds: one woman, one man, and one doubles.
All three sleds of one team start one after the other from the women’s/doubles start height in the order of woman/man/doubles. The first sled starts in a normal way, with the start gate already open. At the finish, the athlete must hit the touch pad, which opens the start gate for the second sled (man) — all of this without the time stopping.
The third sled (doubles) can start when the second athlete has hit the finish touch pad and the start gate opens again. The time stops when the top driver of the doubles sled hits the touch pad, and the overall time for the relay team is determined. If an athlete does not reach the finish touch pad his/her team is disqualified.
Start Order: The start order for the team relay is the nations ranking in reverse order. In case of a tie, the race ranking in doubles determines the placement in the nations ranking. The seeding is determined as follows:
- The ranking in the three individual disciplines (men's/women's singles, doubles) from the current Olympic race.
- Only the best ranked athletes are determined for each national federation (1 woman, 1 man, 1 doubles)
- The points of the best placed athletes of each national federation are added together
- The total points determines the placement in the team relay nations ranking
Finishing: As soon as the third starter hits the touch pad, the time stops and the overall time for the relay team is determined. If an athlete in any of a team’s three runs does not trigger the touch pad, that relay team will be disqualified.
Tiebreaking: See singles procedures above