Chris Mazdzer slides in a training session for the Men's Luge ahead of the Winter Olympic Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 8, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

With the first international races held back in 1883, and its origins tracing hundreds of years earlier, luge is among the world’s oldest winter sports. Despite its long history, luge didn’t make its Olympic debut until 1964. The program included men’s singles, women’s singles and doubles — officially an open event but one that has featured only male competitors in its Olympic history. That program remained unchanged until 2014, when a team relay event was added.

Germany and German-speaking nations have been the land of luge ever since the beginning of international competition. Germany leads all countries in all-time Olympic gold medals and total medals, with the former East Germany occupying second place in both categories. Austria ranks third and West Germany fifth, interrupted by Italy in fourth.

Team USA has come on strong of late, but it took until 1998 for any Americans to find their way onto the podium. The doubles team of Chris Thorpe and Gordy Sheer won silver that year in Nagano, Japan, while teammates Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin were right behind them. The U.S. would win those same doubles medals in 2002, but it took until 2014 for Team USA to win its first singles medal. Erin Hamlin came away with bronze that year, and in 2018 Chris Mazdzer would win the first medal on the men’s side with silver.

The Olympic format doubles the pressure on singles competitors. Unlike the world cup circuit that takes place over two runs, Olympic luge is contested over four runs for singles. Doubles consists of two runs. The times are added together, and the lowest total time wins.

While the singles and doubles competitions are pretty straightforward, the team relay competition is a frenetic race to the bottom with each country represented by three sleds — one from each competition. Once at the finish line, athletes must hit a touchpad to open the gate for the next sled to start. Nothing happens slowly in a sport that sees athletes reaching speeds of up to 90 miles per hour, with no brakes to slow them down.

Luge, along well fellow sliding sports bobsled and skeleton, will be contested at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre in the Yanqing area 45 miles northwest of Beijing.

Updated on January 28, 2022. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

After Team USA’s Chris Mazdzer won his historic medal in 2018, can he bump his silver-medal performance to gold? Mazdzer isn’t having as strong of a world cup season as he has in past years, as he continues to work his way back from a broken foot suffered in the fall, but he remains one of Team USA’s strongest and most experienced athletes.

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger is going for a third straight gold medal and trying to extend Germany’s streak of six straight golds in women’s luge. That streak shows little signs of slowing down as Geisenberger remains a strong contender on the world cup circuit but trails her teammate Julia Taubitz in the overall standings.

Eighteen months ago, the U.S. doubles team of Zack Digregorio and Sean Hollander had never competed together, but now they’ll be racing at the Olympic Games. A crash by Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman at a qualifying race gave the Olympic berth to 21-year-old Digregorio and 22-year-old Hollander, who planned to use the remaining time before the Games to train together in Utah before giving it their best shot in Beijing.

Summer Britcher (Glen Rock, Pennsylvania): Britcher has five world cup wins to her name, the most of any U.S. luger. She’s heading to her third Olympic Games at only 27 years old. She also competed at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games and won a gold medal with the relay team. Britcher has been a part of six world championships teams and won team relay bronze in 2020.

Chris Mazdzer (Salt Lake City, Utah): Nobody on this year’s Olympic luge team has more experience than Mazdzer, a soon-to-be four-time Olympian and the only one with an Olympic medal. The 33-year-old is a four-time winner on the world cup circuit and in 2015-16 finished third in the overall standings, tying an all-time best for a U.S. slider. Mazdzer showed his talents beyond the luge track when he competed on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2018.

Emily Sweeney (Suffield, Connecticut): After making her Olympic debut in 2018, the 28-year-old Sweeney is back for a second go-round. The 2013 world junior champion has competed on seven senior world championship teams since. The U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program member has made the podium five times in world cup competition.

Tucker West (Ridgefield, Connecticut): After young a young Tucker West was inspired to take up the sport after watching the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, West’s father literally built him a luge track in the family backyard. Twenty years later and West, now 26, is heading to his third Olympic Winter Games. A teammate of Summer Britcher’s on the 2012 Youth Olympic Games gold-medal relay team, West has three career world cup wins.

Meet the full U.S. Olympic luge team in this article. 

Feb. 5 – Men’s singles runs 1 and 2
Feb. 6 – Men’s singles runs 3 and 4
Feb. 7 – Women’s singles runs 1 and 2
Feb. 8 – Women’s singles runs 3 and 4
Feb. 9 – Doubles runs 1 and 2
Feb. 10 – Team relay competition