In the Winter Olympics, sledding competitions are known for being some of the fastest, most exciting to watch and most challenging for competitors.
Most bobsled, luge, and skeleton races take place on ice tracks with 14–20 banked curves, and competitors can reach speeds of over 75 miles per hour while experiencing forces up to five times stronger than gravity.
How is a Luge Track Made
The problem is that there are only so many people who meet the requirements to participate in these activities.
Due to their prohibitive cost, sledding hills are typically situated in remote areas, away from densely populated areas. Therefore, only people who are either geographically close to a track or who can afford to travel there frequently may do the training necessary to succeed at an elite level.
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This makes it harder for the International Olympic Committee to broaden the sport’s appeal to younger athletes and to entice athletes from warmer regions to participate in the Winter Games.
The Winter Olympics draw massive global audiences every four years. Luge, essentially a glorified sledding course at which sliders can reach speeds of up to 80 miles per hour, is one of the highlighted sports.
It’s exciting to see the competitors do their thing. Anyone who has ever gone sledding yourself has probably wondered, “How do they make a luge track?”
For luge events known as naturbahn (German for “natural track”), natural luge tracks are used. Roads and trails in the mountains are common places to find tracks. Packed snow and ice form the track surface, and the maximum grade is 15%.
Version of Luge
The Olympic version of luge, known as “kunstbahn” (artificial track), uses artificial refrigeration and banked turns, neither of which are permitted on natural tracks.
The circuit has an average slope of 8 to 11 percent, is steeper overall, and features high-banked bends (about 5 to 6 degrees). On a man-made track, speeds of up to 140 kilometres per hour (about 90 miles per hour) are possible. At 95 miles per hour, Austria’s Manuel Pfister holds the luge world record (154 kilometres per hour).
One of the Olympic tracks is cooled to a very specific temperature. Normal construction calls for a reinforced concrete rail with embedded evaporators. Evaporators maintain a 12 degree Fahrenheit track temperature (-11 degrees Celsius). After this, water is sprayed onto the track to form a layer of ice about 2 inches (5 centimetres) thick.
A typical luge track is shorter than 1.6 kilometres (1 mile) and features dips of 300 to 400 feet (90 to 120 metres) in only one minute. At least one S-type curve combination, such as the “labyrinth,” is included in the layout, which consists of three or four consecutive bends with no straightaways in between them.
The layout also features straightaways, left and right turns, downhills (and sometimes a short uphill), and downhills.
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The bobsled, luge, and skeleton sports at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing will be held on a track in Yanqing that is 5,298 feet (1,615 metres) in length and has a maximum slope of 16 percent. It has 16 bends, including the first-ever Kreisel turn, which is 360 degrees in circumference.
Women’s singles and doubles courses are both 0.75 miles in length, while the men’s singles course is 0.84 miles (1,352 metres) in length (approximately 1,207 meters). Thanks for reading our article How is a Luge Track Made.