Sliding Sports

Top Start Sliding Centre

The three Olympic sliding sports of bobsleigh, skeleton and luge grew from the practice of using a sled or toboggan — a light, narrow wooden platform on runners — to travel on snow or ice. This winter tradition dates back 700 years. The idea of racing sleds down a steep and twisting track dates back to the mid-19th century, when British tourists started tobogganing on the snowbound roads of the Swiss Alps.


The four-man bobsleigh was on the program of the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924, in Chamonix, France. The two-man bobsleigh event joined the Olympic Winter Games roster in 1932 at Lake Placid. It wasn't until the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City that women competed in Olympic bobsleigh for the first time.

Both men and women compete in the sport of bobsleigh, a sport that combines speed, power and agility. There are two person races for men and women. Men also have a four-man event. Bobsleigh is one of the original sports in the Olympic Winter Games.

Bobsleigh in Track
  • In both the two man and four man events, the first 65 meters are typically covered in about 5 seconds while reaching speeds of more than 40 kilometers per hour.
  • It is the driver's job to steer the sled through twisting, high speed turns and straight-aways where top speeds can reach more than 40 kilometers per hour.
  • The sled consists of a hull (cowling) that is made of fiberglass and is constructed onto a steel chassis/frame.  The sled runs on four highly polished steel runners.


Skeleton was on the Olympic program at the St. Moritz 1928 and St. Moritz 1948 Olympic Winter Games. The sport returned to the Olympic Winter Games competition schedule in 2002 in Salt Lake City.

Considered the world's first sliding sport, skeleton originated in the Swiss town of St. Moritz in the late 1800s. The first competition was held in 1884 and saw riders race down the road from St. Moritz to Celerina, where the winner received a bottle of champagne. The sport of skeleton acquired its name in 1892, when a new sled made mostly of metal was introduced; it was thought to look like a skeleton.

Skeleton Running Start
  • Skelton athletes start from standing and cover 65 meters in about 5 seconds while reaching speeds of more than 40 kilometers per hour.
  • Steering the sled is done by shoulder and leg manipulations, affecting the runners' contacts and changing the sled's direction.
  • There are no brakes on a skeleton sled, the athlete and sled stop by decelerating in the braking stretch.


Men's and Women's Luge made its Olympic Games debut in 1964 in Innsbruck, Austria.

Olympic luge consists of four disciplines: men’s singles, women’s singles, Men’s doubles and team relay.    

Luge in Track Sliding Centre
  • Racers begin by sitting on open sleds. They use the start handles on the side of the track to rock the sled back and forth to burst out of the start. They then use spiked gloves on the ice surface for extra acceleration before lying down on their backs, feet stretched out in front and heads back to be as aerodynamic as possible.

  • After the start, an aerodynamic sliding position is quickly assumed as racers reach speeds over 140 kilometres per hour while steering their sleds with subtle movements of their shoulders, legs and hands which hold onto handles within the sled.

  • Luge is the only sliding sport where timing is recorded to 1/1000 of a second. In order for a run to be considered complete, the slider must cross the electronic finish eye in a seated or reclined position on their sled.

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