Luge is the French word for sled, but the luges used in the Olympics are nothing like the Flexible Flyers that used to run down the neighborhood hills. The "slider" rides on his or her back, feet first, the body still and aerodynamically sleek. The athlete does not see where he or she is going but compensates by memorizing every bump and turn.
LOSING YOUR HEAD
Means losing visual contact with the track; reaching speeds like this makes for a dangerous situation, throwing off a slider's timing. Lifting the head is minimized to reduce drag.
Watch for a fast start, key to a fast run. Athletes rock with head between legs, knees apart. Athletes pull on start handles, swing the sled with their hips onto a steep ramp, then paddle hard and quickly with razor-sharp spiked gloves.
Rubberized lycra suit is airtight, reduces wind drag. Protective padding is allowed, but aerodynamic padding or clothing is not.
GUIDING THE LUGE
Steering: Sliders keep their bodies straight and even and are steering during most of the run. Sled is turned with leg pressure on the runner and shoulder pressure on the body of the sled.
Source: Associated Press