Winter Sports around the World | Part 1

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A winter sport is a sport which is played in winter. Most such sports are variations of skiing, ice skating and sledding. Traditionally, such sports were only played in cold areas during winter, but artificial snow and ice allow more flexibility.

Common individual sports include cross-country skiing, Alpine skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping, speed skating, figure skating, luge, skeleton, bobsleigh and snowmobiling. Common team sports include ice hockey, curling and bandy. Winter sports often have their own multi-sport tournaments, such as the Winter Olympic Games.

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Champs21.com brings to you this 2 part series on some famous winter sports around the world.

BOBSLEIGH

Although in majority of the world this winter sport is known as ‘’Bobsleigh’’, in countries such as United States, it is known ‘’Bob-Sled’’.

Bobsleigh is a game played on ice where players have to drive a sleigh (a small vehicle used to travel through snow in snow-falling-countries) through an ice-covered or concrete track and the player who takes the shortest time to cover the whole track becomes the winner.

The game is played on a track made of smooth concrete or ice, about 1200-1600 meters long, with about 15-20 curvy slopes ranging from slight deviations to 360-degree rotations.

This is how the game is played – the sleighers pushes the vehicles while running at their top speed up-to a distance of around 50 meters and then jump onto the sleigh before they reaches the first turn. The power generated from this start-up push will determine how far and how fast the sleigh will travel through the course of the whole track. With the help of the two ropes attached to the vehicle, the sleighers steer it left or right when making turns, and with two rods made of wood, they can make necessary breaks by digging them into the ice.

In team contests, two or four players make up a team. In two-man contests, one of the players takes position at the front of the sleigh and acts as a pilot by handling the ropes. The other person operates as the breaker, handling the brake rods. In four-men contests, the two extra persons in the middle do not participate in steering or braking, but during turns, they shift their weights to help in the steering process.

Two-man and four-man sleighs are much bigger and heavier than the one-man sleighs. Since more than one person is participating in the start-up push, more power is generated and the sleigh moves faster. But because of the additional weight and increased speed of the two-man or four-man sleighs, they are harder to steer than the one-man sleighs.

Nowadays sleighs are made of aluminium or steel, though wooden ones were used in the past. The sport of bobsleigh didn't begin until the late 19th century when the Swiss attached two skeleton sleds together and added a steering mechanism to make a toboggan. A chassis was added to give protection to wealthy tourists.

In the first ever winter Olympic games held in 1924, a four-man bobsleigh contest was held and since then it has continued as a men’s Olympic sport until 2002, when the women’s races were held for the first time in history.

 

SKELETON RACING
Is skeleton racing a form of winter sport where skeletons are magically or scientifically resurrected to take part in a race on a track of snow?? Fortunately no. Like bob sleighing, this is another sport that is played on sleighs. It got the name way back during the late 19th century, before the game earned worldwide recognition, when the first metal sleigh was made that resembled a skeleton.

The game involves a sleigh rider lying flat facedown on his/her stomach and sliding down a snowy track. The track is made of snow, ice or concrete and slopes downwards, with many curves along the path.  With spiked cleats, the skeleton racer controls the speed of the sleigh and with steers it by moving the upper body. Like bobsleigh, the rider has to push the sleigh up a small distance before dropping face down on it.

The game and its’ origins can be traced back to 1882, when British soldiers constructed a toboggan track between the towns of Davos and Klosters. While toboggan tracks were not uncommon at the time, the added challenge of curves and bends in the Swiss track distinguished it from those of Canada and the United States.

For many years, skeleton racing was excluded from the winter Olympics, from 1948 to the 2002. In 2002, it was re-included in the winter Olympics and has since then remained thus.