Bobsleigh was born in the late 19th century when the Swiss attached a steering mechanism to a toboggan. In 1897 the world’s first club was founded in St. Moritz, future home to two Olympic Winter Games, and by 1914 races were taking place on a variety of natural ice courses throughout Europe.
Bobsleigh was on the program of the first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924 with a men’s four-man event. The men’s two-man event was added at Lake Placid 1932 and both events have appeared at every Olympic Winter Games since then with the exception of Squaw Valley 1960 when the organizing committee opted not to build a track to reduce expenses. Women first competed in Olympic bobsleigh at Salt Lake City 2002 when a two-man event was added.
Today’s sleds are built to be fast and aerodynamic with a rounded fiberglass nose and four highly polished steel runners. Competitors use a running start to push the sled as fast as they can for approximately 50 metres before jumping into the sled. While the driver steers down the track, the brakeman (and two other athletes in the four-man) bends into a low position stopping the sled at the end of the run.