Luge and skeleton are two of the three extreme sliding sports commonly known today in the Winter Olympics, the third being bobsleigh. All three sports include the athletes riding down a slippery ice track and clocking the fastest time. The speeds these athletes reach are incredible.
The two sports- luge and skeleton- differ in several ways from each other. Some of them are easily visible – like how they start or ride, and some of them need a sharper eye.
Comparison between Luge and Skeleton
|Number of divisions||Currently, 4, a women’s doubles event will also be introduced.||Only two divisions comprise of separate single events for men and women|
|Number of participants||In luge, 1 person if the event is a single, 2 if the event is a double.||Only 1 participant because both the divisions in the skeleton are single events.|
|The starting position||Lugers sit on the sled and launch using the track handles; then, they push with their hands.||In skeleton, sliders run towards the track pulling the sled from the side and then jumping on it.|
|The riding position||Lugers have their backs on the sled and hold the sled bars on the side for support.||Skeleton sliders have their front on the sled, and the sled holds the slider.|
|Steering||In luge, the slider needs to use calves and shoulders to steer.||In skeleton, the person can use their full body – from their shoulders to their toes.|
|Control||The precision in control is less but sufficient.||The ability to maneuver using their full body requires the slider to be very good at controlling the momentum.|
|Top speed||Lugers can go as fast as 145 km/h (90 mph)||Skeleton sliders can be as fast as 130 km/h (81mph)|
|Type of sled||Luge sleds are longer with steel handles for support.||Skeleton sleds are shorter, thinner, and more compact with bumpers.|
|Weight of sled||Luge sleds weigh upto 25 kg (55 lbs) or 30 kg (66 lbs)||Skeleton sleds can weigh upto 35 kg(77.2 lbs) or 43 kg(94.8 lbs)|
|Spiked equipment||Lugers use spiked gloves.||Skeleton sliders use spiked shoes.|
The Major Differences Between Luge and Skeleton
What is Luge?
Luge is an extreme sliding sport that began in Norway in the fifteenth century. It took its current form in the nineteenth century but was introduced quite late in the Olympics, i.e., in 1964. In Luge, the athletes sit on the sled and push themselves forward by using the steel bars on the tracks.
Right after the push, they use their hands to gain momentum as much as possible and then lay down with their backs on the sled. They use their calf muscles and shoulders to steer and adjust the angle. The one who finishes with the fastest time wins.
What is Skeleton?
Skeleton is popularly known as the first among all the sliding sports. It was originally a part of the 1928 Olympics as well as the 1948 Olympics. It became a permanent Olympic event in 2002.
In Skeleton, the sliders gain initial momentum by running on the track along with their sleds on the ground. After that, they leap onto the sled with their stomachs down and heads in front. For steering, they use their body, especially their shoulders and legs. Like Luge, The one with the fastest time wins.
Contrast Between Luge and Skeleton
Number of Divisions
Number of Participants
The Starting Position
The Riding Position
The Method of Steering
The Precision in Control
The Type of Sled
The Equipment Used to Gain Run-up
The Weight of the Sled
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. In the Olympics, how many medals are available for grabs in Luge itself?
Considering the number of divisions, which are singles, doubles, and team events, there are 12 medals to be won overall.
The number will increase to 15 later when a women’s doubles event is also a part of Luge.
Q2. How many medals are available in the skeleton events?
In the Olympics, six medals will be available for Skeleton since there are only two divisions in the Skeleton.
Q3. From where does the word ‘luge’ come from?
The word Luge was first used at the beginning of the 19th century. It is taken from the french word ‘luge,’ which refers to a small sled.
Q4. How did Skeleton get its name?
It is not exactly clear where Skeleton got its name from. However, one of the possible sources could be the sleds, which are thinner and also looked bony at one point.
The other possibility is that it is a mispronunciation of the Norwegian word ‘kjelke’ (pronounced kh-yell-kay), meaning sled.
Q5. Can people get injured in such sliding sports?
It might seem that Luge and Skeleton would not lead to heavy injuries. But in these sports, the sliders go at incredible speeds, between 130 kilometers per hour(81 miles per hour) to 145 kilometers per hour(90 miles per hour), making them vulnerable to injuries as heavy as any extreme sport.
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