Skeleton is one of the three bob track events and is the fastest growing of all the bob sports. The sport was successfully re-introduced to the Olympic arena at the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City after a 54 year absence, as it was last held on the Cresta Run in 1948.
The athlete adopts a face down, head first, minimal drag riding position on board a sleek sled. The man-made ice tracks range in length between 1 to 1.5 km’s and with speeds approaching of 135 km/hr. From a stand still at the track top, the athlete sprints over 20 to 30 metres, accelerating the sled before diving aboard. The athlete continues to accelerate under gravity, aiming to adopt the most energy efficient line possible while negotiating approximately fifteen curves. The aim simply is the fastest possible descent of the track, racing against the clock to within 1/100th of a second.
The sled has no brakes or mechanical steering components and has minimal protection. Steering is induced by shifting the rider’s body weight and aerodynamic profile in unison with the track physics.
Each track has a different combination of bends, some looping through a full horizontal 360 degrees, where the athlete negotiates the equivalent of a two storey high wall. As the athlete descends the track, `G forces’ of plus 5 G’s are experienced whilst accelerating to breath-taking speed. Immediate if not intuitive reactions are required to manipulate the sled into the optimum entry and exit point of a bend; conserve the maximum amount of energy, and descend the track in the fastest possible time.
The sport is governed internationally by the Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing’ (FIBT) which organises the annual World Cup series, World Championships, European Championships, Americas Cup & Europa Cup events. The sport is part of the Olympic Winter Games and the Winter Goodwill Games.
British Skeleton is the Governing Body for the Sport in Great Britain and is tasked with managing the sport across all levels and all abilities. Click here to visit the British Skeleton website.