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Bobsleigh at a glance

Bobsleigh at a glance
By Reuters

07/02/2005 at 02:45Updated

From its foundations in Switzerland two centuries ago to the its more contemporary form, eurosport.com bring you bobsleigh, at a glance.

A short history

Bobsleigh racing is believed to have originated in Switzerland in the late 1800s but evidence has also been found of racing on wooden sleds in parts of North America in the 1880s.

The following year a four-man race took place at the first ever Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France.

Bobsleigh has traditionally been dominated by European nations, with Switzerland and Germany as the sport's most successful countries.

Bobsleigh first appeared at the Olympics in 1924 in Chamonix, France.

Apart from 1960, when no bobsleigh events were held because there was no track at Squaw Valley, four-man bobsleigh has featured in every Winter Games. The two-man event was added in 1932. Women made their Olympic debut in Salt Lake City in 2002, with a two-woman race.

Rules and regulations

Bobsleigh's specialities are competed in teams of two or four.

At the start, all team members push the sled for about 50 metres – usually covered in less than six seconds and reaching upto 40 km/h – before the rest of the crew jumps into the sled.

The three decisive elements to succeed in bobsleigh are such: the push, the steering and the materials (sled and runners).

If the sled overturns, but all members of the team have passed the finish line inside the sled, the descent is considered valid.

The two-man bobsleigh team is made up of the driver and the brakeman, who are joined by two others in the four-man bobsleigh. The speed reached before the athletes load into the sled is approximately 40 km/h, while the maximum speed reached during the descent is about 135 km/h.

BOBSLEIGH AT THE OLYMPICS

Competition Dates:

18/02/2006: Two Man - 17:30

19/02/2006: Two Man - 17:30

20/02/2006: Two Woman - 17:30

21/02/2006: Two Woman - 17:30

24/02/2006: Four Man - 17:30

25/02/2006: Four Man - 17:30

Defending Olympic Champions:

Two Man: Langen;Zimmermann (GER)

Two Woman: Bakken;Flowers (USA)

Four Man: Lange Andre (GER)

VENUE

Bobsleigh shares a venue with skeleton and luge at Cesana Pariol. The track is 1,435 metres long and has a vertical drop of 114 metres and 19 curves. It was altered after test events last year to slow down some sections.

WATCH OUT FOR...

Andre Lange who won a record third straight world title last season and will lead the German men's team.

The Jamaican team -- the Caribbean island has become a fixture at Olympic bobsleigh tracks since its debut in Calgary and will be sending a team to the Games for the sixth time.

Reuters

SEE: Olympic bobsleigh calendar

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