Skeleton sledding is the kind of sport that extreme sport enthusiasts participate in only when they have tried everything else and lost interest. The concept is so dangerous that few people would ever dream of giving it a try. Others would simply view it as ‘death on a sled’ and immediately condemn anyone even thinking of attempting it. The sport is also known as Cresta Sledding – after the Cresta Run at Saint Moritz where the sport was developed – and it is probably one of the most dangerous and thrilling snow-orientated sports in the world.
It all started in the small town of Saint Moritz in Switzerland. It was here in 1884 that the famed Cresta Run was developed, and it is here that the annual Grand National Championships have been held ever since. The Cresta Run follows a 1 213 meter long course from the town of Saint Moritz to the town of Celerina. The run was designed for normal sledding and it wasn’t until 1887 that someone first attempted the run headfirst. From that day, the sport of Cresta sledding grew. Soon a new sled, made entirely of steel with runners fastened to a platform chassis, became the favorite instrument for the sport. This new sled was introduced in 1892 and its â€˜bony’ appearance gave the sport the new name of ‘Skeleton‘. Though it was popular among fans, it was not as popular as bobsledding and luge and so it fell into obscurity for a while. Fortunately, the sport was rejuvenated after some adjustments were made to several artificial bobsled runs enabling participants to enjoy the sport on a wider scale. The sport is unlike any other form of snow skiing sport since the participant lies on their chest, instead of sitting or standing, with their head facing forward. This prone position increases the level of danger since skeleton participants may reach speeds of more than 130 km per an hour whilst gliding only a few inches above the ground.
Today skeleton sledding has re-emerged as a popular and thrilling sport that has been a regular feature on the Winter Olympics program since 2002 and which enjoys a world championships and a world cup competition annually. In general, the runs utilized for the sport of skeleton sledding are slightly modified bobsled runs and, because of the danger involved, the sport is often seen as being more thrilling than bobsledding. So the next time you see a bobsled run, picture a spandex-clad man or woman with a helmet on their heads and their bodies carefully balanced above a small, torso-sized board speeding down the run instead of a bobsled. Simply put, that is what skeleton sledding entails and if you can stomach that, you can stomach anything!