Bobsledding is the winter sports of auto racing. Teams race down the track in a steel chassis and fiberglass body on steel runners.
Bobsledding is affected by three factors; weight, air resistance and friction. With all three being equal the heaviest team wins.
Steering and the downhill line are critical elements. The sled's steering is made up of a rope and pulley system. Just the slightest pull on the ropes can change the direction of the sled. The best results are when the sled and crew stays as still as possible while maintaining a straight line down the course.
Racers wear lycra bodysuits and helmets with goggles to help reduce wind resistance. The soles of their shoes have needle like spikes to give them traction when they push off.
Bobsledding and skeleton date to around the 1880s. In skeleton racers lie on their stomachs and sled headfirst down the track.
To begin, the racers take hold of the push bars, push the sled forward a step, then back then heave forward and push the sled about fifty yards. The driver, who is the first one to jump in the sled, is then followed by the rest of the crew with the brakeman jumping in last. The brakeman holds the line of the crew together and only uses the brake to stop the sled at the end of the race.
In the Winter Olympics there are two-man and four-man competitions. The U.S. will compete with several veteran teams.
In the two-men race the sled and crew can not exceed 859 pounds and is open to both men and women teams. In the four-man race the sled and crew can not exceed 1,338 pounds. This event is for men only.
Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff