As an outsider, you may be thinking… ‘Luge, that’s got to be the laziest sport ever.’ That’s if you even know what luge is. Many people have said to me ‘You just lie on your back for a minute, it can’t be that hard’. Well that’s also what I thought when I first tried the sport.
I have always been a keen sports woman and competed in trampolining until the age of 18 when I joined the Army. I love the Army life style, the challenges, camaraderie, travel, PT and most of all the sport. When I saw an advertisement for a ‘novice ice camp’ to learn how to luge, I jumped at the chance and got my name down.
At first it did appear that there wasn’t much to it, as I was told by the coach to ‘lie back, feet up and relax’ as he pushed me off from one of the lower corners on the track. I took to the sport naturally, possibly due to my trampolining background as I had a decent level of core strength, body awareness and proprioception.
After two years in the sport and winning the military championships with relative ease, I was invited to attend a international training camp and subsequently clinched a spot on the GB team. It was at this point that I realised that there was much, MUCH more to the sport.
A Game of Milliseconds
Luge is timed to one thousandth of a second, so there are the smallest margins between winning and losing. All gains made make a difference as 0.1 secs at the top roughly equates to 0.3 secs at the bottom of the track. Starts are crucial, and for this lugers require a mixture of flexibility, strength and power. Once on the track, the requirement of strength training becomes apparent as athletes must withstand the extreme G-forces that they are subjected to on tight turns at high speeds.
During the summer months our training is varied. It is a mixture of strength, speed, power, flexibility, prehab and start training (ice rinks/start ramps). We need a strong neck, upper body, core and thighs, this is done partly by Olympic lifting, which helps to achieve the power and explosive strength required off the start handles. Lifting and strength training is also vital, as the heavier you are, the faster you slide.
Making gains in the summer and putting on lean muscle is vital when racing in the winter. Every little bit helps to shave those ‘thousandths’ off at the bottom of the track.
Unfortunately, during the winter season I had a luge accident and broke my ankle. But rehab has gone well. I was back in the gym 48 hours post-op and I am now able to lift again. It has been a slow process to ensure no further injuries.
All in all I have to say luge certainly isn’t the laziest sport ever, to be at the top of your game and to close the gap between the military level competition and top level international athletes a lot of hard work, determination and dedication is required!