Alberta Skeleton Association

What is Skeleton? A good question. Skeleton is the most exciting of the three sliding sports. It combines the thrill of the fast push start from Bob Sled with the speed and exposure of Luge.

Skeleton was the fore-runner of all the ice track sliding sports. A Skeleton sled is basically the "bones" from a Bob Sled without the shell "skin". The sled uses two Bob Sled style runners, smooth convex pieces of stainless steel. The one difference is that there is a small groove cut into the back end of each runner. Normally, the grooves do not come in contact with the ice except when the driver wants to steer the sled. The runners are attached to a metal or fibreglass plate that has handles on it. When it come right down to it, it is just a runner surface for a human to slide down a Bob Sled track on at speeds of over 120 kilometres per hour.

The slider lies stomach down between two handles and navigates the course head first. Steering is controlled by subtle movements that cause the sled to flex. The flexure causes the grooves in the runners to slightly slow down one or the other runner of the sled forcing the sled to turn around that runner. At the speeds that these sleds travel, even moving one's head side to side will act like a rudder and steer the sled. To successfully pilot a course, a slider must try and minimize the amount of steering to take advantage of the best line down the course while keeping the sled from touching the walls of the track. Because of the high speeds and sharp turns, the line has to be found while pulling G forces over four times normal gravity.

mark.kaye@sympatico.ca

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