Luge

Justin Piercy - Friday Feb. 7, 2014 06:06 ET

Sochi Cheat Sheet: Luge

5 things you need to know about Olympic tobogganing

Luge athletes have been clocked going upwards of 150 km/h during competition
Luge athletes have been clocked going upwards of 150 km/h during competition. Down an icy chute. In spandex. (File/Getty Images)

The Sochi Games are on and you'll be watching some sports you haven't seen for the last four years, if ever. Don't worry! We have you covered.

Impress your friends, family and co-workers (or, all three, if you're one of the Dufour-Lapointe sisters) with these interesting tidbits from Olympic luge competition.

1. How fast are they going?

Luge athletes have been clocked going as fast as 154 km/h, quite a harrowing speed, especially for someone clad in spandex.

2. How close are the races?

The difference between the women's gold medal run and second place at the Vancouver Games in 2010 was a mere 0.490 seconds. That's less time it takes to complete an average sneeze.

The biggest factor for athletes at this level seems to come at the starts.

3. What's new this year?

The team relay event was added to the Sochi Games programme, and before you ask, yes, that's a good thing for Canada.

The team of Alex Gough (women), Sam Edney (men) and the pair of Justin Snith and Tristan Walker (doubles) have found success on the World Cup circuit and look to climb the podium in Sochi.

4. Who are the Canadians involved, and do we have a shot at medals?

No Canadians have ever won Olympic medals in the sport, but that could very well change in 2014. Gough has consistently slid to podium finishes on the World Cup this season, the doubles luge pair captured a World Cup bronze medal in January, and Canada's proficiency at the new team relay event all bode well to end that medal drought.

5. Why the change in Canadian fortunes?

Canada's teams are benefiting from some German innovation. Head coach Wolfgang Staudinger and assistant Bernhard Glass have both won Olympic medals in the sport and seemed to have gotten through to their Canadian charges.

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Before Gough won World Cup gold in 2011, the German women had owned gold in that event for 13 years. That's 105-straight races.

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