By R. Behar
Bobsledding is an unusual team sport that can be defined as the sport of sliding down an ice-covered incline on a sledge that carries either two or four people. Even though the definition of the sport may sound dull, Bobsleighing is not for the faint-hearted reaching speeds of over 150 km/h. As a winter sport bobsleighing has gained a following over the years but remains mostly unknown.
The first practices of the sport can be dated back to the 1880’s in the lumbering towns of upstate New York and at ski resorts in the Swiss Alps. However, it was only in Saint Moritz in 1898 that an official competition would be held where both teams of men and women could participate. By 1923 the sport had already been recognized internationally finally making its way into the Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France the following year. In contrast to other male-dominated sports, women participated throughout its entire existence of the event, but an international women’s competition only came to be held in the 1990’s. During its Olympic debut in 2002, the USA women’s bobsledding team made history becoming the first Olympic champions, whilst possessing the first African American athlete to ever win a gold medal at the Winter Games; Jill Bakken.
Sitting behind a TV screen and watching such an unusual sport can often make us think about how people come up with them in the first place, questioning if such events are even official. However, bobsledding is demanding. According to the official PyeongChang Winter Olympics 2018 website, “The pressure an athlete feels going around a curve is nearly four times that of gravity”. Therefore, a 70 kg athlete would come to feel the force equivalent to that if he weighed 280 kg. Additionally, bobsleds move at extreme speeds making accidents prone to occur. The recent incident of a British bobsled team in a World Cup caused the sledge to flip over whilst ejecting one of the athletes from within it. It is safe to say that a sport in which an extremely heavy sledge is hurled through corners of various angles at extremely high speeds cannot guarantee safety to its practitioners.
To learn more about the sport watch this video: