bobsledding

bobsledding, winter sport in which a bobsled—a partially enclosed vehicle with steerable sledlike runners, accommodating two or four persons—hurtles down a course of iced, steeply banked, twisting inclines. A driver and three bobbers, the last one being the brakeman, compose a four-member crew. A two-person sled consists of a driver and the brakeman. A group of American and English vacationers at St. Moritz, Switzerland, developed the sport, an offspring of tobogganing, in the late 19th cent. A part of the Winter Olympic games since their inception in 1924, bobsledding is a sport of exhilarating but dangerous speed (up to 90 mi/145 km per hr). Winners rely on technical sled design, powerful push-offs at the start, and intimate course knowledge to gain split second advantages. Though Americans fared well in early Olympic bobsledding, since 1960, the Swiss, Germans, Italians, and Austrians have tended to dominate the medals. Women's bobsledding was added to the Olympics in 2002.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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