Yes, Luge Team Relay Is a Thing — Here's How It's Done

Fortunately, no actual handoffs take place, making it far safer for everyone involved

Two words that don't seem to go together are "luge" and "relay" — people going speeding down a giant ice slide on sleds that have very long and sharp blades one immediately after another seems like a potentially dangerous idea.

And yet, it works very well and makes for lots of exciting racing. Also, there fortunately are no actual handoffs taking place.

The mixed luge team relay made its debut at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and is the final luge event at the Beijing Olympics. Here's how it works:

Each team is made up of three sleds — one woman, one man and one doubles — with the woman's sled starting first. The start for the women is the same as usual, with the starting gate already open. When the woman's sled gets to the bottom is when things get different from normal luge racing.

When the woman's sled reaches the bottom, the athlete must hit a touch pad at the finish line. Doing so opens the gate for the man's sled to begin their run. The clock does not stop between team members going, so getting off to a good start after that gate opens is important.

With the clock continuing to run, the man's sled will make its way down the course, hitting a touch pad once it reaches the finish line. That will then open the starting gates for the third sled, the doubles team. The time stops when the top driver of the doubles sled hits the touch pad.

If any of the sleds does not hit the touch pad, that team is disqualified.

The start order for the team relay is based on the nation's luge ranking. As such, in Thursday's competition, Germany will be the final team to go, as they continue to dominate in luge. Team USA will go ninth, five spots ahead of Germany.

The luge team relay starts at 8:30 a.m. Thursday and can be streamed here.

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