Who doesn’t love spending a snow day at the neighborhood sledding hill? If someone had told us early on that we could have made a career out of sledding, perhaps we would be at the Olympics right now as part of the U.S. Luge or Skeleton team. Although, both luge and skeleton are pretty different from regular old sledding, and from each other. With this is mind, we have to ask: What is the difference between luge and skeleton?
The difference between luge and skeleton is that with luge, competitors sled down the track on their backs whereas skeleton competitors sled on their stomachs. Mind you, they do so at speeds upwards of 90 mph. So yeah, sledding is literally child’s play compared to these sports.
Both sports have roots that date centuries back. The use of sleds and sleighs has honestly been a thing since humans first had to trek across the snow and ice. In the 19th century, Swiss hotel owners capitalized on the historic sport and built a sledding track for their thrill-seeking tourists, thus spawning what would later be called luge and skeleton.
Skeleton specifically got its start in a Switzerland village called St. Moritz. A Swiss resort housed the famous Cresta Run, the track on which skeleton was born. Men’s skeleton racing debuted in the 1928 St. Moretz Olympics and then later in the 1948 St. Moretz Olympics.
Skeleton disappeared from the Olympics after 1948, only to reappear in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
Luge got a later start at the Olympics, having debuted in 1964. But since then, the program has not changed. It’s now considered the “Fastest Sport on Ice.”
The sleds used for luge and skeleton differ — lugers control their sleds with their calves via runners called kufens. Skeleton sleds are built without the longer runners and are controlled with the competitor’s head and shoulders. Both sports take place on the same Olympic track.
We greatly admire the Olympians who participate in luge and skeleton. Neither are easy sports to master. If any of you athletes out there ever need an understudy, we have mastered the hill in our next door neighbor’s yard, so…