Men and women currently compete in singles events and a doubles event. Officially, the doubles event is open to men and women, but, traditionally, men have ridden together, with the larger man lying on top for a more aerodynamic fit.
In both men’s and women’s singles, the competition takes two days, with two runs staged on each day. Each run counts. The four times are added up, and the fastest total time determines the winner. Men and women compete on the same track, but the women start from a position further down the course.
Doubles luge is a one-day competition in which pairs of athletes take two runs down a course. Like singles, each run counts and the fastest total time determines the winner.
The four-run format is unique to the Olympic Winter Games. It is designed to reward consistency, endurance and ability to withstand pressure, particularly on the second day. At most events, such as the World Championships and World Cup races, singles are contested over two runs.