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Rules to play Bobsleigh
11. Back and forth
In its original form, the first races used skeleton sleds made of wood. However, they were soon replaced by steel sleds that came to be known as bobsleighs because of the way crews bobbed back and forth to increase their speed at the start. Today, the worlds top teams train yearround and compete mostly on artificial ice tracks in sleek hightech sleds made of fibreglass and steel.
12. Super heavy
By the 1950s, the critical importance of the start had been recognized and athletes with explosive strength from other sports were drawn to bobsledding. In 1952, a critical rule change limiting the total weight of crew and sled ended the era of the super heavyweight bobsledder and rebalanced the sport as an athletic contest.
13. Strategy and Technique
The most critical part of a bobsled run is its start. Teams focus on explosive starts because momentum at that point strongly affects the sleds speed throughout the course. Saving onetenth of a second during the start often translates to saving onethird of a second on the run as a whole.
To set the bobsled in motion, team members sprint while pushing the sled forward. They run for about 50 m (164 ft) and then leap into the sled just before the first turn, assuming streamlined positions for the remainder of the run. The driver occupies the front position and steers the sled. The brakeman, in the rear position, operates the brake. On a fourman bobsled the two middle sledders contribute mostly during the start, although they also shift their weight during turns.
On the course, drivers try to steer through the turns smoothly and to prevent the sled from skidding into the walls. The greatest challenge is to maintain a tight line on the banked curves, not allowing the sled to drift high up the turn. After the finish, the brakeman pulls up on the brake to stop the sled.
The basic techniques used in twoman and fourman bobsledding are the same, but because fourman sleds have two extra sledders, they are faster. They gain power from the extra push provided by the middle sledders at the start, the sledders additional weight, and the increased weight of a larger sled. The increased speed and weight make fourman sleds harder to steer than twoman sleds.
Bobsled competitions involve training runs and two or four heats, with the lowest combined time winning. Racers often use the training runs to experiment with different strategies.
14. Course and Rules
Bobsled runs look like tunnels without roofs, and they twist and wind down hillsides or artificial slopes. Most have a base of concrete or stone, which is covered with snow and iced over. Courses measure from 1200 to 1600 m (0.75 to 1 mi) in length. Over that distance most courses drop 110 to 125 m (360 to 410 ft) in elevation. They feature straightaways that are barely wider than the sleds and curves that range from slight deviations to 360
To provide traction during the start, bobsledders wear spiked shoes that grip the ice. These spikes may not exceed 4 mm (.16 in). Bobsledders also wear skintight uniforms and gloves that make them more aerodynamic. All competitors must wear helmets. Drivers must wear goggles.
Bobsleds are made of aluminum and steel, although synthetic materials such as kevlar and carbon are becoming increasingly popular. All sleds must fit international specifications. The maximum length for twoman sleds, sometimes called boblets, is 2.7 m (8 ft 10 in). Fourman sleds can be 3.8 m (12 ft 6 in) long. Maximum weights, including crew, are 390 kg (860 lb) for twoman sleds and 630 kg (1389 lb) for fourman sleds.
The sled slides on four runners, two on the front axle and two on the rear. The front axle is connected to a steering mechanism of pulleys and ropes that the driver handles. The back axle is bolted to the sled and does not move. The sled also has a brake, a sawtoothed bar that comes down between the back runners. An aerodynamic hood, or cowl, covers the front of the sled. The back is open, which allows the brakeman to jump in easily at the start (the other sledders jump over the side). Handles extend from the back, where the brakeman pushes at the start. The other sledders use handles along the sides; these handles retract once the sledders jump into the sled.
16. International Competition
All international events are governed by the FIBT, which has a membership of about 50 nations. The major competitions are the Winter Olympics, the world championships, and the contests on the annual World Cup circuit. All of these events include twoman and fourman races. Countries may enter two sleds in World Cup competition and three sleds in Olympic and world championship competition. The starting order is decided by a ranking based on previous races and the better teams go first. This gives the top teams an advantage because as the competition progresses the sled runners tear up the course, producing slower times. At the Olympics and the world championships, events consist of four runs made by each team. World Cup events involve only two runs per team.
Modern tracks are made of concrete, coated with ice. They are required to have at least one straight section and one labyrinth (three turns in quick succession without a straight section). Ideally, a modern track should be 1,200 to 1,300 metres (3,900 4,300 ft) long and have at least fifteen curves. Speeds may exceed 120 kilometres per hour (75 mph), and some curves can subject the crews to as much as 5 g.
Some bobsleigh tracks are also used for luge and skeleton competition.
Some tracks offer tourists rides in bobsleighs, including those at Sigulda, Latvia; InnsbruckIgls, Austria; Calgary, Canada; Whistler, Canada; Lillehammer, Norway; Cesana Pariol, Italy; Lake Placid, USA; Salt Lake City, USA and La Plagne, France.
The most famous of all the turns is the Petersen. The Petersen is renowned for its trademark 180 degree turn and 270 degree bank angle, which is a compulsory feature on all Winter Olympic runs. The Petersen is named after the pioneer track designer Heidi Petersen.
18. Sleighs and crews
Modern day sleighs combine light metals, steel runners, and an aerodynamic composite body. Competition sleighs must be a maximum of 3.80 metres (12.5 ft) long (4crew) or 2.70 metres (8.9 ft) long (2crew). The runners on both are set at 0.67 metres (2.2 ft) gauge. Until the weightlimit rule was added in 1952, bobsleigh crews tended to be very heavy to ensure the greatest possible speed. Now, the maximum weight, including crew, is 630 kilograms (1,390 lb) (4man), 390 kilograms (860 lb) (2man), or 340 kilograms (750 lb) (2woman), which can be reached via the addition of metal weights. The bobsleighs themselves are designed to be as light as possible to allow dynamic positioning of mass through the turns of the bobsleigh course.
Bobsleigh crews once consisted of five or six people, but were reduced to two and fourperson sleighs in the 1930s. A crew is made up of a pilot, a brakeman, and, only in 4man heats, two pushers. Athletes are selected based on their speed and strength, which are necessary to push the sleigh to a competitive speed at the start of the race. Pilots must have the skill, timing, and finesse to steer the sleigh along the path, or, line, that will produce the greatest speed.
In modern bobsleighs, the steering system consists of two metal rings that actuate a pulley system located in the forward cowling that turns the front runners. For example, to turn left, the pilot would pull the left ring. Only subtle steering adjustments are necessary to guide the sled; at speeds up to 80 miles per hour (130 km/h), anything larger would result in a crash. The pilot does most of the steering, and the brakeman stops the sled after crossing the finish by pulling the sleds brake lever.Women compete in Womens Bobsleigh (which is always twowoman), and men in both two and fourman competitions.
Individual runs down the course, or heats, begin from a standing start, with the crew pushing the sled for up to 50 metres (160 ft) before boarding; though the pilot does not steer, grooves in the ice make steering unnecessary until the sled leaves the starting area. While poor form during the initial push can lose a team the heat, it is otherwise rarely, if ever, decisive. Over the rest of the course, a sleighs speed depends on its weight, aerodynamics, runners, the condition of the ice, and the skill of the pilot.Race times are recorded in hundredths of seconds, so even seemingly minor errors especially those at the beginning, which affect the remainder of the heat can have a measurable impact on the final race standings.The mens and womens standings for normal races are calculated over the aggregate of two runs or heats. At the Olympic Winter Games and World Championships, all competitions (for both men and women) consist of four heats.
The first organized competition in the sport was held on the Cresta Run on January 5, 1898, with fivepassenger sleds with two of the passengers being women. For better steering, they were equipped with four runners, positioned on axles much like the four wheels of a car. With the new design, speeds on the mountainside became dangerously fast, so an artificial bobsled run with a gentler slope was built at St. Moritz in 1902.Bobsledding spread rapidly to other Alpine countries. By 1914, when the first European championships took place at St. Moritz, there were more than a hundred bobsled runs in Europe.The Federation Internationale de Bobsleigh et Tobagganning (FIBT) was founded in 1923 to establish rules so that the sport could be included in the first Winter Olympics at Chamonix, France, in 1924. Only fourman sleds raced there. A fiveman competition replaced the fourman in 1928, but the fourman returned in 1932 (Lake Placid) and has been on the program ever since.
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