Skeleton Racing in the Winter Olympic Games

Skeleton racing is considered a winter sporting event involving an athlete that slides down a steep ice track while their head is down on a sled. The sled gives the impression of a skeleton-like figure hence the name. The sporting event is still referred to by many as tobogganing in most countries, which is its original name.

Unlike other sporting events at the Winter Olympic Games, such as bobsleigh and luge, skeleton racing online features one athlete that slides down an ice track. The race starts with the athlete running as fast as possible while holding the skeleton down the ice track before positioning themselves on the sled and sliding down the path headfirst. The sled in this sporting event needs to be made from steel, but plastic can also be incorporated for the base of the skeleton sled. On either side of the sled you will also find bumpers and handles that assist the athlete during a racing event.

History of Skeleton as an Olympic Winter Sport

The sport of skeleton racing was initially practised in 1882 by English soldiers. The soldiers decided to construct a toboggan track which included bends and curves between the towns of Klosters and Davos and regularly raced against themselves. In 1884, Casper Badrutt and Major William Bulpett decided to contract a Cresta run. The Cresta run, which was a ¾ mile track was constructed between Celerina and St Moritz. It had a total of 10 turns and is still being used to this very day. It was utilized during the Winter Olympics in 1948 and 1928.

In 1887, skeleton racing was performed head first for the first time by Mr Cornish, and nearly all racers adopted this technique shortly after that. In 1892, the first skeleton-looking sled was designed by L.P Child. The sporting event was predominantly practised in Switzerland until 1905. In 1923, the federation for bobsleigh and skeleton was established, catering and governing the sport of skeleton. Even though the game grew in popularity over the years, it wasn’t until 2002 that it was added to the Olympics. Since then, other countries that don’t even have natural ice managed to participate in the sport.

Skeleton Racing Rules

If you are interested in participating in skeleton racing, you will need alpine racing equipment consisting of a sled, spiked shoes, shoulder and elbow pads, goggles, skin-tight racing costume, and a chin guard. The sled’s weight cannot exceed 35kg for women and 43kg for men. The combined weight of the equipment and athlete cannot exceed 92kg for women and 115kg for men. Should the overall weight exceed these conditions, the sled needs to be reduced to 29kg for women and 33kg for men. It’s also required that you cross the finish line while still being on the sled. However, you are allowed to leave the sled just before the finish line to either push the sled or pull the sled.