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The fastest sport on ice

2014 U.S. Olympian Tucker West compares a luge run to riding a roller coaster. “But imagine you’re wearin...

Posted: Feb. 8, 2018 8:11 PM
Updated: Feb. 8, 2018 8:11 PM

2014 U.S. Olympian Tucker West compares a luge run to riding a roller coaster.

“But imagine you’re wearing a blindfold that kind of slipped halfway off, and you still have to make sure you stay on the track,” he said.

There is no sport at the Winter Olympics faster on ice than luge.

Lugers can reach speeds as high as 90 mph as they plunge feet-first down an icy track. Mere milliseconds over four runs can determine the winner.

The phrase “Fastest Sport on Ice” is even a registered trademark of USA Luge.

“Coming out of every turn curve feels like launching into space on a rocket,” said 2010 and 2014 U.S. Olympian Chris Mazdzer in a promotional video for the sport.

Luge is one of two Winter Olympic sports, along with short track, that are timed to the thousandth of a second. And such precision is necessary. The 1998 Olympic women’s race was decided by just .002 seconds over four runs.

“This sport can be won or lost in the thousandths of a second,” said 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Erin Hamlin. “It’s us against the clock.”

West gets frustrated when fans tell him the sport looks easy.

“It’s difficult to make it look like you’re doing nothing,” he said. “If you were to send a normal person down a luge track on Olympic ice, they would probably flip the sled within a turn or two.”

You can watch the “Fastest Sport on Ice” beginning Feb. 10. The men’s competition will take place on Feb. 10 and 11 in PyeongChang, followed by the women’s competition on Feb. 12 and 13, with the doubles competition on Feb. 14 and the team relay on Feb. 15.

 

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