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Winter Olympics

Bobsleigh

Bobsleigh is a winter sport in which teams make timed runs down narrow, twisting, banked purpose-built iced tracks in a gravity-powered sled. In the United States the sport is known as bobsled.

The sport was invented in Switzerland. The first races were run on snow-covered roads, with the opening competition in 1884 at St. Moritz. The first club was formed in 1897 and the first purpose-built track was opened in 1902. A modern track should be at least 1500 metres long and have at least fifteen curves, speeds up to 130 km/h are common and some curves can subject the crews to over five g. There are thirteen top-level competition tracks in the world:

City Country Length (m) Vertical drop (m) Max. grade (%)
Igls  Austria 1 220 98.10 14
Calgary  Canada 1 475 121.2 15
La Plagne  France 1 507.5 124.5 14.5
Altenberg  Germany 1 413 122.22 15
Königssee  Germany 1 250 117 ?
Winterberg  Germany 1 325 110 14.5
Cesana  Italy 1 435 117 9.2
Cortina d'Ampezzo  Italy 1 350 120.45 16
Nagano  Japan 1 762.3 112.5 15
Lillehammer  Norway 1 365 114 15
St. Moritz  Switzerland 1 722 129 15
Lake Placid  United States 1 455 107 ?
Salt Lake City  United States 1 340 103.9 ?

Initially the sled teams were of five or six, this was reduced to two- or four-person sleighs in the 1930s. Sleds were wood but steel-runner sleds came into use from ????. Modern sleighs combine light metals, steel runners, and an aerodynamic composite body. Competition sleighs must be a maximum of 3.80 m long (4-crew) or 2.70 m long (2-crew), both have a maximum width of 0.67 m. The maximum weight, including crew, is 630 kg (4-crew) or 390 kg (2-crew) - metal weights may be added to reach these limits, as the greater the weight the faster the run; until the 1952 weight-limit rule, bobsleigh crews tended to be very heavy.

A crew is made up of a pilot, a brakeman, and in 4-crew two pushers are added. Runs (lauf) begin from a standing start, with the crew pushing the sled for up to fifty metres before moving on board. Races are won and lost in the initial push.

The Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing (FIBT) was founded in 1923 and the sport has been part of the Winter Olympic Games since 1924. Initially just a four-crew event for men, the two-crew sled was added in 1932 and women's bobsled made its Olympic debut at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. As of 2005 bobsleigh is split into men's and women's events, women compete in two-crew and the men in both two- and four-crew competition. The men's standing is calculated over the aggregate of four runs, the women's over two runs.

The Swiss have been the most successful bobsleighing nation over European, World, World Cup, and Olympic championships.

The story of the Jamaican Bobsled Team in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games inspired the film Cool Runnings.

There is also a word-association game called Bobsledding(word game) that has no relation to the actual sport of Bobsleigh.

Bobsled In The Bobsleigh Bullet At Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Canada
Bobsled In The Bobsleigh Bullet At Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Canada
Rudnicki, Rick
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2006 Winter Olympics medal count
Pos Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  Germany 11 12 6 29
2  United States 9 9 7 25
3  Austria 9 7 7 23
4  Russia 8 6 8 22
5  Canada 7 10 7 24
6  Sweden 7 2 5 14
7  Korea 6 3 2 11
8  Switzerland 5 4 5 14
9  Italy 5 0 6 11
10  France 3 2 4 9
 Netherlands 3 2 4 9
12  Estonia 3 0 0 3
13  Norway 2 8 9 19
14  China 2 4 5 11
15  Czech Republic 1 2 1 4
16  Croatia 1 2 0 3
17  Australia 1 0 1 2
18  Japan 1 0 0 1
19  Finland 0 6 3 9
20  Poland 0 1 1 2
21  Belarus 0 1 0 1
 Bulgaria 0 1 0 1
 Great Britain 0 1 0 1
 Slovakia 0 1 0 1
25  Ukraine 0 0 2 2
26  Latvia 0 0 1 1
    84 84 84 252

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Background Info
Winter Olympics
Winter Games 2006
History of Winter Olympics
The Olympic Flame
The Olympic Oath
Sports
Alpine skiing
Biathlon
Bobsleigh - Results
Cross-country skiing - Results
Curling - Results
Figure Skating - Results
Ice hockey - Results
 Luge Results
Short track speed skating - Results
Speed Skating
Snowboarding - Results
Skeleton - Results