Australia and Olympic Luge
Three Australians have competed at the Olympic Games in luge. Diana Ogle was the first Australian to represent her country in this sport. She competed at Albertville 1992 and flew down the track to place 21st from 24 contenders. At the following Olympics, Roger White became the first male to represent Australia, placing 32nd at Lillehammer 1994.
It was another 12 years before Hannah Campbell-Pegg took to the track, finishing 23rd at Torino in 2006. When she competed in Vancouver four years later, she became Australia’s first luge dual-Olympian, also finishing 23rd.
The luge was included in the Winter Olympic program for the first time at Innsbruck 1964 and has remained on the program ever since. Women have competed in this event from the start, but so far only in singles, though following Albertville there have been no regulations preventing women from competing in doubles.
The sport of luge involves competitors propelling the luge forward, at the start in a sitting position gathering speed by paddling their hands on the ice track and then lying back to wind their way down through the corners.
There are four gold medals decided for luge: singles for men, singles for women, doubles for men and a mixed team relay. Singles competitions are decided on the aggregate time of four runs over two consecutive days, while doubles luge is a one-day competition of two runs.
In the team event, each country fields a men’s singles sled, a doubles sled and a women’s singles sled.. All three entrants from one team slide one after another with the clock stopping only after the third sled has crossed the finish line. A touch pad at the finish line must be activated by an athlete in one sled before the gate at the start line opens for the following team member to compete. The luge team relay made its first appearance in January 2012 at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck and will be in the Olympics for the first time in Sochi 2014.
In all events, each run counts, and the fastest total time determines the winner.
Luge is one of two sports at the Winter Olympics (along with short track speed skating) that is timed to the thousandth of a second.