Winter Olympics 2018: A beginner's guide to skeleton ahead of the Pyeongchang Games

Known as the world's first siding sport, skeleton is an event named after the toboggan that was used by North American Indians to transport goods in the winter. Another theory says the name came about because the sled in skeleton looks like the bones of a bobsled.

Legend has it that the sport first began in St Moritz back in the 1880s. The sport was inducted into the Winter Olympics in 1928, but was deemed to be too dangerous after the 1948 Olympics and was excluded from further Games. It made a comeback to the Olympics in 2002 and been a constant feature ever since.

With the 2018 Winter Olympics right around the corner, here's a look at the sliding sport of skeleton:

Austria's Janine Flock in action during the Skeleton World Championships in 2017. REUTERS

Austria's Janine Flock in action during the Skeleton World Championships in 2017. Reuters

Biggest contenders:

Historically, the Americans have eight medals to their name in the discipline. Great Britain (six medals) and Canada (four medals) are also decent enough. Amongst the others, Germany, Austria, Russia, Switzerland, Italy and Latvia have won medals.

Days of event: 12 February to 17 February

Medals at stake: 2

How is it played?

The start of the run is the most important aspect of a good timing, for that is where the initial momentum is generated. A slider runs with one hand on the sled (or two in some cases) before leaping on his belly. The initial run looks incredibly awkward since running with just one hand on the sled makes the athlete look off-balance.

This is what it looks like:


Once on the sled, the slider can steer using his/her upper body or head to steer. The key is being as relaxed as possible, and not trying to steer too much as shifting too much on the sled slows it down.

Here's what a skeleton run it looks like:

The track: The skeleton track is an artificial track made out of ice measuring anywhere between 1,200m and 1,500m.

Equipment required: The most important piece of equipment for a slider in bobsled is the sled, which is between 800 to 1000mm in height and 340-380mm in width.

Equally important is the helmet, considering the speed at which a slider hurtles down the track headfirst with his/her chin just inches above the icy track.

Skeleton is a sport which has had some chilling crashes, like this one:


The slider's shoes also have hundreds of tiny spikes which help them in the initial run-up.

Rules: The most critical rule in skeleton is the one which restricts the weight of the slider and his/her sled combined. For men, the weight of the slider and his luge cannot be more than 115kg. For women, that number is 92kg.

Scoring process: A skeleton is basically a race. Whoever finishes first, wins. In this case, the winner is decided on the total time taken after four runs.

Updated Date: Feb 09, 2018 09:54 AM

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