Bobsledding is a winter sport that features two or more teams racing down an ice-coated incline. Racers travel in a vehicle that is known as a bobsled or bobsleigh. It is a form of sledge designed to move as fast as safely possible. The sport is also called bobsleighing in some areas.
The sport has its origins in the late 1800s. Its early development has been credited to both the United States of America, and Swiss Alps ski resorts. 1898 saw the first ever organised competition in Switzerland. It was during this time that the sport earned its name. This was due to the bobbing technique adopted by the athletes. This style allowed them to increase speed, and win the race.
Since then, bobsledding has gained international recognition as a winter sport. It is practised by many countries all over the world. Those who are interested in it are able to practise at specialist ski resorts. Those who show great potential can even be trained at a professional level.
For many years, this sport was most popular with countries that have cold climates. However, in 1988, Jamaica made the headlines by submitting their own bobsleigh team in that year’s Winter Olympics. This event was given further attention with the release of Cool Runnings, a comedy movie starring John Candy, that told their story.
Safety is of the utmost importance when this sport is practised. Those who take part in the race wear specialist safety equipment. Their headgear is similar to motorbike helmets, in both look and function. The sportsmen travel at high speeds, which means potential crashes often involve high impacts. Therefore, it is essential to wear the necessary gear, to decrease the chances of injury.
However, recent accidents in the sport have also highlighted other issues that need to be addressed. During the 2014 Winter Olympics, there were numerous injuries in many high-speed sports. Bobsledding was no exception. One person had both their legs broken. There was also one other significantly serious bob crash, where thankfully no one was harmed.
This shows the dangers that modern winter athletes face. Many of them are young, and being pushed to their limits. They often try to break speed records, and attempt ever more dangerous stunts, to wow the judges and spectators. There needs to be a more safety conscious culture, to prevent worse injuries in the future.
Despite these issues, bobsleighing is a fun sport, that indeed should not be feared. It offers viewers the chance to experience high-velocity racing vicariously. Those who participate in it, say that there is no greater thrill in the world. New generations will continue to enjoy the rush that comes from hurtling down the incline.