Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘World’s weirdest sport’: but doubles luge is no laughing matter

‘World’s weirdest sport’: but doubles luge is no laughing matter

Germany's Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt compete in the doubles luge at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on Wednesday. AFP
Germany's Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt compete in the doubles luge at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on Wednesday. AFP

‘World’s weirdest sport’: but doubles luge is no laughing matter

It is a niche sport in which two men lie, one on top of the other, in skin-tight uniforms and hurtle feet-first down an ice chute on a tiny sled.

No wonder the doubles luge turned heads at the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

Twitter was inundated with comments when the competition took place late on Wednesday at the Pyeongchang Games, with many wondering why anyone would want to do it.

Matthew Pinsent, the retired British rower who won four Olympic golds, was amazed by what he was seeing – even though the luge is one of the oldest winter sports.

“Even as man who has spent most of my Olympic career stuffed into a small vehicle getting sweaty with big blokes in lycra – men’s double luge is still a thing of wonder,” he tweeted.

Many appeared to agree.

“My brain is trying so hard to process this,” said one typical post on Twitter.

“World’s weirdest sport,” chimed another, and one person tweeted: “Luge is if you want to kill yourself while lying on your best friend.”

“Saw a couple laying on one beach lounger. I thought it looked uncomfortable but then realised they must be practising for the double luge,” said another post.

Deadly consequences

But despite the reaction, this is top-level Olympic sport and livelihoods – and lives – are at stake.

So what is the luge? The first international race was held in Davos, Switzerland in 1883.

Unlike bobsleigh, competitors do not have a barrier on their sled to protect them. Nor do they have brakes as they negotiate a race track of 1,000m to 1,500m travelling as fast as a car on a motorway.

It can be done in singles, doubles or team relay. In the doubles, the larger of the two team members lies on top for better aerodynamics.

There is no women’s doubles event at these Olympics – something that did not go unnoticed by those watching the action in South Korea.

It is not a sport for the faint-hearted.

Competitors lie on their backs on a tiny sled and slide feet-first at speeds of about 140 kilometres (90 miles) per hour.

Underlining the danger involved, the Vancouver 2010 Olympics was marred by the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during a fateful training run.

Earlier this week at the Pyeongchang Olympics, American luger Emily Sweeney suffered a frightening crash that saw her bounce around the track.

She escaped serious injury, but it was a reminder of the perils that lugers face in the pursuit of gold – and for the entertainment of those safely at home on their sofas.

“When Emily crashed that was really hard,” said teammate Summer Britcher.

“I’ve never been so relieved as when I saw her get up and walking.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group