Luge Basics

Today the first portion of the ADK Luge Club’s season comes to a close. Since most of you have probably not been on a luge sled I figured I would take a little time to introduce you all to the equipment we use. OK here we go….

First you need a sled. This is mine you have seen it a lot.


The important thing to know about a sled is that it needs to weigh between 21 and 25 kg (about 50 lbs). There are a bunch of other spec’s for a sled (width, thickness, etc. actually there is a whole rule book about the sled, but weight is the most important).

The business end of the sled are the steels. Couple of important things here. The sled actually rides on about six inches of the steels, not the whole length. That’s about 1/4 of the distance shown in the picture. The steels have a slight bow in them that causes you to ride on that small portion. The other thing people are usually surprised about is that the steels are not sharp (you will never cut anything with that edge). They are not profiled or sharpened like a skate blade. There is a definite edge which you can make more or less round, but it is definitely not sharp. How sharp the edge is depends on the ice conditions. Sharper for colder harder ice. Rounder for softer warmer ice. If you are like me you have a pro put an edge on, and you never ever mess with it.

I do “polish” my steels. Meaning I used sandpaper to get them as smooth and shiny as possible.

OK the other thing I get a lot is safety equipment. Well, the only official safety equipment you need is a helmet.


The helmet is controlled by the luge federation. You may not touch or modify it. Yes as many of you have pointed out to me its not very aerodynamic (and yes a smart guy who knows something about aerodynamics could make it better). It’s been done

It’s also illegal. What they found was people were modifying the helmets to the point where they were not safe. Go figure.

The picture shows my face shield on my helmet. That keeps the wind out of your eyes. Sliding in really cold weather and having the wind causes tearing. Been there. The black garb is my speed suit. Its the outer most article of clothing. I usually wear a base layer or two under that (yes its cold, luge is not a comfortable sport).

Luge is a gravity sport and weight is important. If you are under 90 kg you can wear extra weight to get you up to 90 kg. This is my supplemental weight vest. It weights about 10 kg and is about 10kg light of what I am allowed.


Going through airport security a couple of years ago to go to Park City for a race was quite exciting with that.

Toes and feet?


The white booties are aerodynamic and force your feet in a nice pointed position. They are regulated and only made by Adidas. The gloves are not regulated in the rules (other than you must have them). My are  mountain bike gloves (of course!). I got these because they have knuckle padding (which was one of the places I used to get really bruised).

When you get good enough you put spikes on your gloves.


Those are mine, not on my gloves. When you watch luge you will see the athletes paddling after they pull off the handles. The spikes give you traction on the ice so you can actually paddle. I don’t use mine. They were more of a problem (I usually went home with puncture wounds) than they were worth (it didn’t make me any faster). Someday I will put them back on my gloves.

That’s pretty much it. Some people wear elbow pads. I don’t, they are uncomfortable. I do wear arm bands to help protect my speed suit from abrasions (when hitting the wall).

Weight wise it works like this: You get 23 kg for your sled. If you are under 90 kg you get your body weight plus supplemental weight to get you to 90 kg. If you are over 90 kg you get your body weight. And everyone is allowed 4 kg for gear. Controls are strict during a race. Everyone is weighed. If you are “controlled” all of the components are weighed separately.

BTW. If you are bored, there is a live track camera here:

We are sliding at 5:30-7:00 pm (EST) tonight. I will be in all black.

Picture of the Day




2 thoughts on “Luge Basics

  1. Is weight distributed the same for each sled? Meaning, is their room for innovation or is the sled design/shape/weight distribution heavily regulated? Do women have the same 90kg weight goal?

    • Women go off an athlete base weight of 75 kg. Sleds have the same weight. There is a lot of room for design and innovation on the sleds. That’s what I am doing in my professional work with USA Luge. There are basic dimensions like max width, height etc. that you have to stay in, but that’s not too bad. It’s actually kind of fun. Working with (or around 🙂 ) the rules.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s