All About Bobsledding

When the bobsled team were competing in this year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, every team wanted to start at the right footing, and that means starting with the right shoes. This is how bobsled work: you get in a sled; the sled goes down an include covered in ice. You need to do two things in bobsledding: push really fast to get the sled going; and turn to travel through the course. Another name for bobsledding is bobsleighing. The ice slid on can be natural or artificial. A bobsleigh can carry two or four persons depending on the design.

In bobsledding, speed matters, therefore even 0.001 second makes the difference between bringing the trophy home or not. The race takes place in a periods of only 60 seconds, with the most important period being the first six seconds. Gravity plays a critical factor as its what propels bobsleigh. To make most use of gravity, preparation has to be done before the clock ticks—that is, during the first 15 meters of the “push start”, when the sled is pushed across the icy track. bobsledders wear a special shoe: how much spring are in the toes of bobsled shoes plays a critical role of who goes home with the trophy. What the toes does affects who goes home with the trophy.

Bobsledding came into being in the 1880s in the bumbling towns of upstate New York and at the ski resorts of the Swiss Alps. The first recognized competition in bobsledding was held in 1898 on the Cresta Run at Saint Moritz, Switzerland. In the year 1923, it was included in the first Olympic Winter games at Chamonix, France, thus it became internationally recognized. In the year 2002, the women’s two-persons bobsled competition made its debut. Early designs were made of wood; after a few years steel runners are adapted, and by the mid-20th century steel and aluminum designs became the norm.

From Physics point of view, a bobsleigh is a block sliding down an incline. The block runs on a slow friction inclined plane, just like a bobsled; the physics of blazing fast bobsled runs. Looking at the physics, basically three forces act on the bobsled. There is the gravitational force, the reaction force pushing up, and the normal force. All these forces balance to produce a forward stream.