2010-02-08 18:20 BJT

Like the other sliding sports of bobsleigh and luge, the start is crucial in skeleton — where a tenth of a second lead at the start can become three-tenths of a second by the bottom of the run. These athletes train much like sprinters to develop powerful legs they need to explode onto the track. But speed is not the only factor: they must also find the best line and steer smoothly through each turn to keep their speed high.

Men’s skeleton was raced at the 1928 and 1948 Olympic Winter Games, both in St. Moritz. Skeleton then re-appeared as a permanent Olympic sport for both men and women at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

How It Works

Skeleton got its name from the sled used — originally metal, now fiberglass and metal — as it resembles a human skeleton. To start, a skeleton slider grasps the handles on either side of the sled, runs as fast as possible for approximately 50 metres, then dives head first onto the sled. Sliders lie on their stomachs and steer by shifting their bodies very slightly.

There are two individual skeleton events in the Olympic Games: one for men and one for women. Both events consist of four heats held over two days, timed electronically to 0.01 seconds. The individual with the lowest combined time wins.

Editor: Zhang Pengfei | Source: