Winter Olympics: Luge

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The Independent Online
IT may look like overgrown kids wearing silly suits and even sillier hats sliding down a mountainside on a tea- tray, but that is only until you realise that these 'kids' are whistling along inches off the ground at up to 80mph or that competition is so fierce and tight that this is the only Olympic sport to be measured in thousandths of a second.

The biggest name in the sport is Germany's defending champion Georg Hackl, a renowned bon viveur who is likely to make full use of the German team's own private beer bar which has been set up near the track. However, he was surprisingly beaten in the World Championships last year by the American Wendel Suckow, and is also lying only third in the World Cup.

In fact, the Americans, who are making a big impact on the sport, have two real medal chances through Suckow and his team-mate, Duncan Kennedy, currently second in the World Cup. In the women's event, a powerful German team challenges the 1992 Olympic silver medallist, Angelika Neuner of Austria, and Italy's Gerda Weissensteiner.

British team: Paul Hix.