Competitors begin a race from the start ramp. Athletes must start within 30 seconds after the “track is clear” signal; they can start only when the green, not red, light is visible and after an audio transmission. Doubles athletes must begin within 45 seconds of the signal. The start is valid if the athlete has pushed off the start handles to put the sled in motion. Timing begins when the athlete crosses an automatic electronic line at the bottom of the start ramp
While most international singles competitions consist of two runs, the Olympic event has four runs timed to a thousandth of a second. The individual with the fastest total time wins. Ties are permitted. The doubles competition consists of only two runs.
In singles, the starting order for the first two runs is based on a country's performance in the World Cup. The top 12 seeds make up the first group, the next 12 make up the second group and so on. The starting order for the last two runs is based on the results from the previous runs. Three individuals per nation may compete in the Olympic Games.
In doubles, the starting order for the first run is based on the country's performance in the World Cup. The starting order for the second run is based on the results from the previous run. Two teams per nation may compete in the Olympic Games.
Competitors must pass the finish line in contact with their sled.
Officials check the temperature of competitors' sleds at the start of the run. The sleds are compared to a control runner, which is sheltered from the sun and located close to the start area. The temperature of the blades on each athlete's sled cannot be more than 5 degrees above the control, meaning competitors cannot try to gain an unfair advantage by heating their equipment.
Athletes and sleds may be weighed at the beginning and end of a run. The weight must fall within the requirements.