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The Differences Between Luge & Bobsledding

by Gray Rollins

The winter sports of luge and bobsledding have a lot in common. Both are featured prominently in the winter Olympics. Both are extremely dangerous for the participants. Both consist of plummeting feet first down the same slippery track at top speeds. Both sports require nerves of steel and reflexes of lightning. However, there are a lot of subtle difference between these two sports that test the limits of how humans relate to gravity.

Bobsledders work in groups of up to four people, whereas luge racers either go solo or work in teams of two. Lugers face the elements head on, whereas bobsledders enjoy some protection with their equipment.

A bobsled is shaped sort of like a canoe with an extended opening. Although the riders are most exposed to the elements, the low front and sides of a bobsled offer the athletes some level of defense from both the force of the wind when they race and from the possibility of serious injury if they crash. The bobsled itself is designed to absorb at least some of the impact of a collision, offering the racers a modicum of protection.

Luge RacingBy contrast, a luge is a small piece of equipment roughly the size of a couple of skateboards. Racers cling to this tiny surface to protect themselves from the friction of the track, but in the event of a crash a luge racer’s body is entirely exposed and vulnerable.

Bobsleds accommodate either two or four riders, and much of the athletes training before a bobsled race centers on learning to work together as a team. With top race speeds over one hundred kilometers per hour, it is absolutely essential that a bobsledding team function as though they were many limbs attached to the same brain. Being even a few fractions of a second out of sync in their movements can send a bobsled team rolling into a major crash instead of flying past the finish line. It can be very difficult for teams to accomplish the kind of precise group coordination that they need in order to excel on the track.

bobsled racingLuging is a sport undertaken by individuals and by teams of two. Without having to worry about coordinating four people to move as one, luge racers are free to focus their training on other aspects of downhill sled racing. Lugers work to improve everything from their position on the sled to their ability to anticipate the nerve-shattering hairpin turns of the track. Luge racers need to be in peak physical condition in order to be able to respond instantaneously to unexpected twists and turns.

In addition to learning how to handle the track, athletes who pursue excellence in the world of luging need to become experts at protecting themselves in the event of a crash. Because luges go at such fast speeds, the difference between reacting immediately to a bump in the road and reacting a few fractions of a second later can be the difference between walking away from a spill and being carried away on a stretcher.

About The Author

Gray Rollins is a featured writer for Lugear. To learn more about luge, visit

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