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Sled basics
A luge (the French word for sled) is a precise instrument designed to carry its passenger or passengers more than 90 mph. The sled rides along the course on two steel runners called steels. The steels are attached to kufens, which are flexible levers that respond to the pressure of slight leg movements. Bridges, made of steel, connect the two kufens. There are two bridges on each sled - one in front and one in back. The competitor or competitors lay in pods, the fiberglass bodies of the sled. Mechanical braking devices are prohibited.

American lugers Tony Benshoof and Mark Grimmette discuss the dynamics behind luge clothing.

The track
The luge track in Vancouver will be used for competition in bobsled and skeleton. Most luge tracks, including the Whistler Sliding Centre, are made of artificial ice.

Blades of steel
The steel blades, attached to the runners and are the only part of the sled that contacts the ice and are considered the most important part of the sled. Using sanders, files and sandpaper, sliders can adjust and polish them to run fast and adapt to different ice conditions and tracks.

Sled specs
* Maximum weight:Singles, 50.6lbs; doubles, 59.4lbs.
* Maximum width: 21.65 inches
* Maximum height: 4.72 inches
* In the rear of the sled, the pod must not extend past the shoulders of the athlete and in the front, it must not extend forward of the knees

The Uniform
Everything worn by a competitor, or slider, is designed for speed. Sliders wear specially designed race suits to reduce wind resistance, and all race clothing must conform to the body contours. A neck strap is permitted to help an athlete hold his or her head up under the high G-forces experienced, but it may not lead to an aerodynamically improved form of the race clothing.

Their feet are covered by luge booties, which are formed to a point to increase aerodynamics. Sliders' gloves are spiked at the fingertips to assist with the start and paddling motion as they accelerate onto the track.

A transparent visor connected to an aerodynamic helmet allows the slider to see the course while shielding his or her face from wind. The slider must wear a safety helmet. Lighter athletes are allowed to wear weight vests. Maximums are based on each discipline and the individual's body weight.

Other than goggles or a face shield, an athlete will be disqualified for losing any item during the run.


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