Journey To The 2010 Winter Olympics

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What Exactly Is Skeleton?

Skeleton is a winter sport in which competitors aim to drive a one-person sled in a prone, head-first position down an ice track in the fastest time. This differs from luge, where the rider drives the sled from a supine, feet-first orientation. Top speeds attained in skeleton—approximately 130 km/h (80 mph)—are slightly slower than in luge. This Olympic sport is known in some parts of the world as tobogganing. It takes its name from the stripped-down sled, which originally was a bare frame, like a skeleton. There is also a theory about the name that it is a mispronunciation of the Norwegian word 'kjelke' which signifies sled or luge.

Skeleton is the oldest competitive sledding sport. It originates from St. Moritz, Switzerland, where in 1884 the Cresta run was built by Major Bulpetts. When the Winter Olympic Games were held there in 1928 and 1948, the event was included in the program. Skeleton was added to the Olympic program beginning with the 2002 Games.




Here is an excerpt from the Time Magazine article entitled, "Altius, Citius, Fortius!" which was published February 16, 1948:

"On the fifth day, a heat wave hit St. Moritz, forming pools of water on the Alpine rinks. Looking angrily at the sunny sky, Olympic Games officials called off several events. Not until the seventh day did anyone try to toboggan down the whole length of perilous Cresta Run.

Among those who ascended to the starting point high above the village was a local boy, a sturdy, tough-looking Italian, Nino Bibbia, whose father runs a fruit& -vegetable shop in St. Moritz. Nino lay down on the iron framework of his toboggan, crash helmet in place, and shoved off. His "skeleton" (as Alpine tobogganers call their steel-runnered sleds) slithered dangerously down the famous ice chute, whose turns have sporty names like Scylla, Charybdis and Battledore.

Bibbia roared into Church Leap with his face a few inches from the ice, steering with his body, breaking & banking with his spiked boots. For a fleeting second, he could see the white panorama of St. Moritz, and directly below—extending a sinister invitation—the village cemetery. One false move would put him in it. A few yards further, he roared into a sharp right turn, had no trouble until his skeleton sled went too high into Shuttlecock. With a desperate jerk, he brought it down. Said he afterwards: "I still had two fingers of space between the edge of the bank and the runner of my skeleton—that's just enough." An inch more and he would have crashed. Six times he made the descent of Cresta Run's spine-tingling ice path, to win an upset victory and Italy's one Olympic gold medal.* Average time: 5:23.2 (average speed: 42 m.p.h.)."


  • That looks really scarry! What happens if you lose controll and smack with your face into the wall? Won't you break your neck??

    By Blogger Dizzie Diva, at 1:28 PM  

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