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There are three kinds of luge competition: men's and women's singles, and the doubles. The aim of luge racing is simple – to get from A to B on a refrigerated luge track as quickly as possible lying, feet first, belly up on an open, fibreglass sled. At the Winter Games the four- run format is unique, and is designed to reward consistency, endurance and mental strength over two tough days of competition. Who said winning Olympic gold was easy? Pulling on handles fixed in the ice, luge racers fly out of the start and use spiked gloves to gain extra acceleration before lying on their backs, feet stretched out in front of them. Steering with their legs and shoulders on a hi- tech, refrigerated track with corners and steep banking, racers regularly reach speeds of over 140 km/ h, with G- forces reaching over 5G. Unsurprisingly, times are measured in the thousandths of a second. Usually held over two days, the winner is the athlete with the fastest time combined over four runs. Men and women compete on the same track, although the women start from a position further down the course. The doubles event consists of two runs in a single day, with the fastest total time determining the winner. 70OLYMPIC REVIEW STAR INTERVIEW Below: The spectacular new Olympic luge run at Whistler FORMAT

OLYMPIC REVIEW71 VENUEFORMGUIDE STAR INTERVIEW Nestled in the scenic Fitzsimmons Valley on the southeast slope of Blackcomb Mountain, the Whistler Sliding Centre will host the luge, bobsleigh and skeleton competitions at Vancouver. With a capacity for 12,000 spectators, the luge competition should provide spectacular viewing. Held on a 1,450m track, the elevation of the start line for the men is at 939m, and the finish at 787m, meaning the vertical drop over the course is some 152m. In building the Whistler Sliding Centre, organisers have kept in mind effects on the environment: the track has been painted white to minimise heat absorption, and trees, where possible, have been retained to help cast shade. Located in an area with many adventure-oriented activities, after the Games the Sliding Centre will operate as a centre for high- performance development, youth and recreational club programming. With an unbeaten record in World Cup competition that goes back to 1997, there is no doubting Germany's dominance in women's luge. Their three competitors, and therefore the favourites for the gold in Vancouver, will be Tatjana Huefner, Natalie Geisenberger and Anke Wischnewski. Other possible medal contenders, such as Natalia Yakushenko of Ukraine and Austrian Nina Reithmayer, will be pulling out all the stops to prevent a third German sweep of the podium in Vancouver. At her Olympic debut at Turin in 2006 Huefner won the bronze medal as the German women swept the podium for the second time in a row. Two years later she improved on her runners- up place in the 2007 World Cup to win the series' prestigious trophy in 2008, when she was also crowned world champion. As the build- up to Vancouver gathers pace, Huefner is giving no quarter to her rivals. On 11 January she claimed her fourth World Cup victory this season, after just five races, to reinforce her overall lead. In the men's competition there is less uncertainty over who has gold medal favourite status. Two- time Olympic champion Armin Zoeggeler has been on fire this season, claiming his third World Cup victory in a row and 43rd of his career ( as of 11 Jan) to reinforce his overall lead. And the big and powerful part- time police officer from the mountainous Haut Adige region, is showing no signs of slowing down. A seven- time world champion, Zoeggeler, 35, has won the World Cup crown seven times in his career. Often trailing Germany's three- time Olympic champion Georg Hackl and Austrian Markus Prock early in his career, an emerging Zoeggeler finished third, then second behind Hackl at the 1994 and 1998 Games respectively before finally unearthing gold at Salt Lake City in 2002. In Turin he defended his title with aplomb. But in a little less than a year's time, the emergence of a strong German contingent, which includes David Moeller and Felix Loch, could present Zoeggeler with a fresh Olympic challenge. SPORTS PROFILES LeftDavid Moeller will be one of the main rivals to favourite Armin Zoeggeler BelowGermany will try to sweep the medals again in the women's event