Skeleton is one of the three Olympic sliding sport. The another ones are of course Bobleight and AT Luge (AT stands for Artificial Track as Luge has also Natural Track variant). Skeleton sled is an one the atlete slides in head-first position on.
As You may find in Wikipedia the Skeleton has been invented in late XIX century in St Moritz in Switzerland. It made it’s first appearance in Olympics in 1930s and 1940s after it was rubbed out from the WOG programme for almost 60 years until the 2000s when it was restored permanently.
The skeleton consist three major ingredients:
- The speed
- The adrenaline
- And You may be surprised but… the safety
Skeleton is often called as the easiest and safest sliding sport from all of them. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t super easy and for sure it isn’t only about running at the launch and then lying on Your stomach and doing nothing. But when we compares luge and skeleton in regard of training and time the athlete needs to spend to reach, what we can call „the entry competition level”, it is like distance between earth and moon.
So what makes skeleton sliding so distinct from luge? The sliding position itself doesn’t make as much difference. I know that it may look so damn scary to run at 100..130km/h with Your chin only few centimeters above the ice, but really this is very safe and very fun 🙂
First at all compare the first photo with the skeleton slider with this below taken by me during Polish Championship in 2020. As for now please ignore Adam and focus only on the sled 🙂
At first glance You can see that the height of the skeleton sled is much lower than in the luge. The absolute difference in centimeters are not so big but when we’ll make a relative compare the difference is huge and impacts the center of gravity in big extend. The next thing is the weight of the sled. The luge should be 23kg, when the skeleton can have up to ~40kg and usually it weights more than 30kg (IBSF Sporting Code limits the maximum start weight, so the sled needs to be adjusted to the slider weight).
The Skeleton sled has a totally different method of steering which implies only a pressure given by an athlete to the certain parts of the sled. The athlete doesn’t 'interact' with runners directly like it is in luge. All of those causes a much bigger stability.
So how it is to slide on such device? 🙂 The answer is somehow the same as for paragliding or skydiving. It is very hard to tell about this. You should rather try it Yourself 🙂
Let’s start from that obvious fact that Skeleton is an extreme sport. It isn’t as dangerous as it might looks like but it definitely triggers a whole bunch of emotions 🙂 I don’t know what the real, professional athletes feels. I can only assume that something much different from the rookies, but the one feeling which is definitely the same is the centrifugal force, called simply as g-force. The principle of an inertia causes the big force to press the athlete against theirs sled. The sled and the athlete want’s to go straight ahead but unfortunately 'that stupid curve' doesn’t allow them to do so 🙂 How big it is? Very 🙂 So big that sometimes athlete cannot resist it and it is not able to keep head up & looking forward. The g-force bends theirs neck and press helmet against the ice.
The another common feeling, but this time more common for rookies are pain 🙂 You rather will not severely hurt Yourself (like broken arm or leg) but it doesn’t mean that it will be piece of cake. The skeleton is easy which means that You will very early reach huge speeds (I had 103.5km/h in my first run). Where there is a great speed and not so much of the control on the run, there a lot wall-bumps might be. The sled has bumpers for certain reason. You must be aware that the skeleton sport will be a proof of Your durability and will. You might feel uncomfortable or You can feel a fear during few first runs, but if You really want to be a slider You must learn how to deal with such emotions. Just thing positively about so damn fun thing You are doing 🙂