Sledding Sports

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For hundreds of years people have used sleds to travel across snowy distances. Tobogganing has inspired many different sledding sports, including the three Olympic events: bobsled, skeleton and luge.

Each of these games is conducted on slick ice tracks crafted for speed and difficulty. Typically, there are turns that make tracks more challenging to navigate, testing the skill of the sledding athletes. More than most events, the push start is the most important element of these competitions. Without a fast and solid start, a team’s time is much slower.

The bobsled, which has been an Olympic event since the inception of the Winter Games, has the largest apparatus and most people in the women’s and men’s four-person competitions. The luge can be raced in singles and doubles. And, the skeleton, which has the smallest sled, is a solo event.

To learn more about these fast events that require major athletic ability, check out the quiz below along with the video pop quiz featuring luge stars Elana Meyers and Erin Hamlin

Sledding

How much trivia do you know about this winter sport? Find out now.

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The bobsled is the original sledding sport that premiered at the first Winter Games in 1924 and the first official games in 1928. Derived over 150 years ago from the tradition of tobogganing in the Alps, the bobsleigh has been a popular winter sport for many years. Only recently, in 2002, were women allowed to compete in the Winter Games.

The Olympic events are broken up into three races, two-men, four-men and four-women in four heats over the course of two days. The sled is very aerodynamic, made of fiberglass, metal and four highly polished steel runners.

Each race begins with the Olympians making a timed push start that effects their speed down the track. Races are judged to the .01 of a second. The fastest time wins.

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Skeleton is one of three sledding sports in the Olympic Winter Games. The sled, called a skeleton slider, is traditionally made of metal and modeled after the common toboggan. Modern skeletons are made of fiberglass and metal. They are low to the ground and fit the body closely. Two handles are on both sides of the sled.

Olympians race on the same track as the bobsled and luge. The icy track allows competitors to move at great speeds, up to 80 mph. There are no brakes or steering mechanisms on the skeleton. Athletes must navigate with slight movements and use their feet as brakes.

For this sport, as with all of the sledding events, the first push is the most important. How the Olympians manage their speed and the bends in the track determines their time and eventually their place among other racers. The competitor with the shortest time wins.

In the Winter Games, there are two events, one for men and one for women. The events are conducted in four heats over the period of two days. Skeleton was declared an Olympic event in 1926, but its presence in the Winter Games did not become permanent until 2002.

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Unlike the skeleton, which is a sledding sport where the athlete rides on their front, the luge is raced on one's back atop a fiberglass sled. "Luge," which is French for "sled," became an Olympic event in 1964.

There are three luge events, Men's, Women's and Doubles. For every race, the competitors must achieve a particular start time and cross the finish line. The speed of the luge is determined by the push start and how the sled is maneuvered down the track. The person with the fastest time wins.

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Learn about Luge with Erin Hamlin.

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