I know it’s almost the official start of summer and most people are thinking about summer fun and road trips but time is flying by faster than a bobsled team down a sheet of ice. The 2014 Winter Olympic countdown is on and the opening ceremonies will be here before we know it so it’s time to get prepared for the games by taking a closer look at the sports and athletes. What better sport than the fast paced sport of bobsled to start our profiles for the Sochi Olympics?
Bobsleds, or bobsleighs as they’re called outside of the United States, were first used by the adventurous to carry passengers down icy roads and drivers quickly started to race the sleds. The bobsled name came from the rides bobbing back and forth to gain speed down the mountain. The races were popular, but St. Moritz, Switzerland had to ban the sleds from public roads because of safety concerns.
After the ban of sleds on the road the Badrutt family who owned hotels in St. Moritz decided to build a half pipe ice track for races in the late 19th century. The St. Moritz track went on to host the Olympics in 1928 and 1948 and is still in use along with 15 other tracks around the world today. Two more tracks are under construction including the track in Rzhanaya, Polyana, Russia which will be used for the 2014 Olympics.
When the Winter Olympics first started in 1924 the four-man bobsled was one of the 7 original sports that competed. Bobsled has been a part of every Olympics except 1960 in Squaw Valley when a track was not built to save money. The two-man bobsled was added in 1932 and two-woman bobsled was added at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Germany has had the most success at the Olympics in bobsled winning 40 of the 123 medals awarded – 16 gold. Switzerland is second with 30 medals followed by the United States with 20. The most famous bobsled team is the Jamaican bobsled team who first competed in the 1988 games in Calgary. The story inspired the movie Cool Runnings. The Jamaican team failed to qualify for the games in 2006 and 2010 but is hoping to make an Olympic return at the 2014 games in Sochi.
Qualifying for the bobsled event will take place from October to January with events around the world. The fastest will travel to Sochi for the XXII Winter Olympics in February 2014.
For more great photos of Bobsled or Bobsleigh check out Newscom.
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