Luge Track Safety
Simple geometric models of ice surface shape and equations of motion of objects on these surfaces can be used to explain ejection of sliders from ice tracks. Simulations using these can be used to explain why certain design features can be viewed as proximate causes of ejection from the track and hence design flaws. This paper studies the interaction of a particle model for the luge sled (or its right runner) with the ice fillet commonly connecting inside vertical walls and the flat track bottom. A numerical example analyzes the 2010 luge accident at the Vancouver Olympics. It shows that this runner-fillet interaction, and specifically the fillet's positive curvature up the inside wall, can cause a vertical velocity more than sufficient to clear the outside exit wall. In addition its negative curvature along the track, together with large vertical velocity, explains loss of fillet or wall contact and slider ejection. This exposes the fillet along inside walls as a track design flaw. A more transparent design and review process could provide a wider, more complete and thorough design and verification scrutiny by competent scientists and engineers without financial involvement or conflicts of interest and potentially lead to safer future designs.