Bobsledding is another sport that first came to my attention because of a film. The film in question is a 1993 movie called Cool Runnings, and it is awesome and you should definitely watch it. In the meantime, you can read this article which should hopefully give you a good idea as to what this sport is.
Bobsledding was invented in the nineteenth century when Swiss tobogganers added steering wheels to their sleds so they could control the direction that their sleds went in. In case you don’t know, a toboggan is a long and light sled used for sliding over snow and ice. It remained a tool for transport until the bobsled club was founded in 1897 which transformed bobsledding into a leisure activity for the upper classes, where they could race each other in alpine resorts. It wasn’t until the mid-twentieth century that bobsledding became a competitive sport. These days, there is a place for bobsledding in the Olympics, whilst the sport has its own World Cup and World Championships.
Bobsledding has definitely made its mark as a competitive sport. It’s one of the fastest winter sports that exist! Teams of two or four men, or two or four women, make runs down twisting, steep, ice covered tracks in bobsleds. These runs are timed and the fastest team wins. The whole team have to push off together and so everyone wears special tacked running shoes so they don’t slip on the ice. The top teams will try and push off in under 5 seconds so they have to be very fast runners and extremely coordinated so they can all jump into the sled in time and without getting in each other’s way. Teams can be disqualified if their team fails to get everyone inside the sled in time, so this is a really crucial part of the event. Once everyone is in, it’s up to the driver to steer the bobsled in the best line for maximum speed and time efficiency on the track.
The timer runs from the time the bobsled starts moving, to the time the nose of the sled hits the finish line. Lots of factors can contribute to a fast time on the track, including the weight and the starting push, however many will argue that knowing the track and what line you’re going to take is the most important. The bobsled itself is designed for maximum speed with an aerodynamic nose which minimises wind resistance so the sled can cut through the air and the ice as quickly as possible.
Bobsled competitors wear protective body suits and head gear. This sport is incredibly dangerous, with bobsleds reaching top speeds of 100 miles an hour! Crashes can be both spectacular and deadly. Therefore the ideal competitor is usually a lover of an adrenaline rush. They also need to have very steady nerves and a heightened sense of balance. Lots of bobsledders are quick sprinters and good at weight lifting! In short, bobsledders are fairly rounded athletes.
Bobsledding is definitely a popular sport in cold countries, however, lots of countries, hot and cold, compete in it. The film that I started by mentioning, Cool Runnings, follows the Jamaican bobsled team’s first appearance in the Olympics! If you live in the UK and want to give bobsledding a try, visit the British Bobsleigh website for more information. If you live further afield, Google what you can do. Have fun!