Ice Luge Facts:
- Luge is the only sliding sport measured in 1/1000th's of a second.
- Luge was introduced as an Olympic sport during the '64 Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
- USA Luge has won more than 250 medals, internationally, over the last 13 years.
- USA Luge won silver and bronze medals in the doubles event of the '98 Nagano, Japan Games, marking the first time a nation outside of Europe or the former Soviet Union claimed an Olympic Luge medal.
- Luge is the French world for sled. It's called rodel in Germany.
- Sturz is the German world for crash.
- The U.S. is the home of the world's two newest luge tracks. They're located in Park City, Utah, the home of the February competition, and Lake Placid, N.Y., the site of both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games.
- The average luge run has a vertical drop of 30 stories.
- A maximum of only 110 luge athletes are allowed to compete
Panasonic was official audio/video technology supplier to USA Luge for its competition in Salt Lake City, Utah. The company supplied the U.S. Luge team with a variety of digital electronic products to be used at the team's training facilities at Lake Placid, NY and in Park City, Utah, the site of the 2002 luge competition. In addition, the team has taken and employed a number of the Panasonic products to Europe, as they travel, compete and train in preparation for the games.
Luge is the fastest of all the Winter sports. In a competition where instant analysis is a major asset to coaches and athletes alike, Panasonic supplied Palmcorder digital camcorders, digital still cameras, Triple Play 27" Television/DVD/VCR combination units, and ruggedized Toughbook laptop computers. The Toughbook laptops were specifically chosen for their durability and ability to operate outdoors under extreme temperature conditions.
A luge run drops 30 stories from top to bottom and is approximately one mile in length. The luge, a small, one or two-person sled, can reach speeds up to 90 miles per hour, making it difficult for coaches to view an athlete's progress with the naked eye.
The use of digital camcorders allows the coaches to record each run and analyze it on the TV/VCR/DVD combination units and laptops, using the unique Dartfish software, a program that enables a slider to examine each run in stop action and by overlaying one athlete over another.
"In a sport timed to the thousandth of a second (the only sliding sport so timed), technology plays a critical role in training and analysis," said Dan Smith, trainer and strength-conditioning coach for USA Luge. "Thanks to Panasonic's recognition of the role of technology in the sport of luge, we have increased our training knowledge and can now instantly study the technical intricacies of a run. The combination of the rugged Toughbook computer and digital camcorder allows us to review a run right on the mountain."
"Another major factor is the portability of this equipment. Prior to the February games, we will be competing in a number of World Cup events in Germany, Austria and Latvia. We'll carry the digital camcorders and laptops with us, giving us the ability to have instant review sessions wherever we are in the world."
"Not only will this equipment benefit our national team, but there is a terrific application in using the video technology to train our junior athletes," said Duncan Kennedy, coach of the USA Luge junior development team. "These young sliders benefit greatly, not only by watching video of themselves, but also of the more experienced Olympic caliber athletes. With the availability of the Dartfish video training software, the technology can only help them improve."