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Articles: Bobsleigh


Bobsleigh is a winter sport that consists of sliding down an ice covered track in a sled called a bobsled that can carry either two or four persons. The objective of the sport is to slide down the track in the shortest time possible. During a competition, each team has 4 runs down the track and the team with the fastest combined time wins.

The origins of bobsleigh can be traced back to a time well before the invention of the wheel when people were using sleds as a way of transporting heavy loads. As a modern sport, bobsleighing originated in St. Moritz, Switzerland and the first competition was organized on natural snow covered roads in 1884.

The sport is most participated in European countries like Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, France and Italy. Bobsleigh is also popular in Canada, USA and Japan where the sport has strong traditions and top level competition tracks have been build.

Today, top level international bobsleigh competitions include the European championship, World championship, World Cup and the Olympic games. Germany is the most successful bobsleighing nation having the highest number of won medals.

Although bobsleigh has started to gain popularity more recently, the sport does not have a high profile like other winter sports. Due to this aspect, there are little sponsoring opportunities available. As a result, bobsleigh teams are subsidised by their country and competitions are organized between countries rather than individual teams.

A bobsleigh race

Bobsleigh international competitions are organized for both men and women. Participants are grouped in crews of two or four members depending on the competition format.

The essential equipment used by participants during a race includes a standard competition sleigh and protection equipment such as hard plastic helmet, gloves and shoes with spikes for better traction.

There are a total of seventeen bobsleigh competition tracks in the world. Tracks are constructed with reinforced concrete and covered with ice. Modern tracks have a length of at least 1,200 to 1,300 metres (3,900–4,300 ft) long and are required to have a straight section and at least 15 curves. Tracks are also used for other winter sliding sports like luge and skeleton which are sports similar to bobsleigh but use only one or two person open sleds.

How a race begins

Each crew begins its run down the course from a standing start. All members of the crew are outside the sledge pushing it for up to 50 metres (160 ft) before boarding it. The crew consists of a pilot, a brakeman and only for 4 man crews, two additional pushers.

At the beginning of the competition, the starting order of the participating nations is determined by a draw at the first captain’s meeting. After the first run, the starting order for the following heats is established based on results obtained in the first race heat.

Main rules and tactics

Participants in bobsleigh competitions are only allowed to use bobs that are constructed according with the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (FIBT). All race heats must be run with the same team and sled.

The standard competition sleighs must be a maximum of 3.80 metres (12.5 ft) long (4 crew) or 2.70 metres (8.9 ft) long (2 crew) and have a maximum weight including crew of 630 kilograms (1.390 lb) (4 man), 390 kilograms (860 lb) (2 man) or 340 kilograms (750 lb) (2 woman).

Bobsleigh competitions are officiated by jury members and technical delegates, appointed by the F.I.B.T. Executive Committee. Their primary function is to supervise the competition and make sure that each team respects the rules and regulations of the competition.

The aim of each team is to run the track in the shortest time possible since rankings are calculated by combining the time of each run to calculate a final score.

Because the sleigh needs to be pushed at the beginning of the race, athletes are selected for their speed and strength. During the run, members of the team need to coordinate in order to achieve maximum speed. In this context, the pilot must have the skills to steer the sleigh down the track. At certain curves during the track, crews can experience gravitational forces of 5G.

The pilot steers the sled by pulling a pair of rings connected through ropes to the sled’s steel runners. During the run, the sled can reach speeds of up to 80 miles/hour (130 km/h). This is why the pilot must have the ability and skill to steer the sleigh with subtle adjustments in order to achieve maximum speed and avoid a crash. By shifting their weight, the rest of the crew can also help with the steering. In order to achieve maximum speed, the whole crew needs to synchronize and act like one.

Competing in bobsleigh

Since there are no professional bobsledding leagues, one becomes a professional participant if recruited by the national team. Most national teams organize annual trails to test applicants and select those that show potential.

Bobsleigh competitions are organized with the following disciplines: men’s bobsleigh (2-man and 4-man bobsleigh), women’s bobsleigh (2-woman bobsleigh) and team competition.

The international governing body for bobsleigh competitions is the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (FIBT). The federation is responsible for organizing the following events: Olympic Winter Games, various Championships like Senior World Championships, Junior World Championship and Continental Championships, World Cup Competitions, Intercontinental Cup Competitions, Europe Cup and America’s Cup Competitions, and other International Competitions.

With the exception of the Olympic Winter Games which is held once in 4 years, the rest of the Championships are organized annually.

Bobsleigh betting opportunities

Bobsleigh bet markets are usually offered by European bookmakers during major events like the Winter Olympics. Some of the most popular bet markets include (Ante-post/Outright winner) and (Finish in Top 3).