In Saint Moritz, Switzerland (in the Swiss Alps) bobsledding first became popular in the 19th century. Bobsleds were first raced on icygrounds and icy passes. The first competition was held in 1898 with five-passenger sleds. The sport spread rapidly to other countries, and by 1914, when the first European championships took place at St. Moritz, there were more than a hundred bobsled runs in Europe. In 1923 the Federation Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing was created to set up rules for the sport. The next year, bobsledding was introduced into the Olympics at Chamonix, France. By 1950 the sport we know today had taken shape and attracts athletes from around the world today.
Bobsled teams are made up of 2 to 4 people. The weight limit for 4 men is 1,389 LB and for a 2 person sled the limit for a 2 person sled is 827 LB. You start out by the team running down the track till they go about 228 feet. Then before they get to the first turn all the team members get into the sled. The captain of the team steers for the rest of the ride down. Then the team member in the back operates the brakes. If it is a 4 member team then the two middle team members lean backward then go forward real fast like snapping forward. That is what gives bobsledding it's name. When they do that it is called "bobbing".
The way the bobsleds are made are like this: they have brakes and a streamlined aluminum cowl mounted on the front of the sled. They go up to 118 mph but the average speed is about 60 to 90 mph. The sled itself is made out of fiberglass and look like rockets because of their shapes. The tracks that they run on are called bobruns. They go up to 118 mph but the average speed is about 60 to 90 mph.
When you are on the runs in the sled it feels like going on a roallercoaster. One of the differences between a bobsled is that the roller coaster is on tracks and the sled is on a icy chute.
The best known
run is in Lake Placid, New York. Some runs are on hillsides and others are just
In The Olympics
Bobsledding was introduced in the 1924 Olympic games in France. Only four-man sleds raced there. Now, there is also a two-man sled competition.
The bobsled run is at least 1,500 meters long and has about 15 or 20 turns. Walls of ice, about 18 inches high, keep the sleds from flying off the runs.
A race is
made up of four runs and results are based on combined times of all four runs.
That means that one bad run can cost a team a medal.
In the Olympics only men are allowed to compete.
Medals are won by teams in the Olympics. The following were past Olympic champions:
Two-man bobsled: 1998 a tie between Canada and Italy, 1994 & 1992 Switzerland won.
Four-man bobsled: 1998 & 1994 Germany II won, in 1992 Austria took the gold.