This page will contain information gathered from the Web about the history of bobsledding in the Olympic Games. John Kasper, who is a bobsled world champion, participated in the 1998 Olympics, playing for Team USA in the 4-man race.
When it comes to the games played at the Olympics, some sports are arguably more famous or patronized by supporters than others. This could be because of a number of reasons; the sport is widely loved and celebrated all over the world; the sport has a face or is personified in a legendary athlete; or simply because of the sport receiving heavy media exposure.
For the second reason, there’s Michael Phelps of swimming, there’s also Usain Bolt who is the world’s fastest man, but what about for sports like bobsledding, which has been played in the Olympics for nearly a century now? Will bobsledding ever be as celebrated as other popular sports like swimming, basketball, and gymnastics?
History of Bobsledding
The history of bobsledding dates back to the late 1860s when the sport was first invented by the Swiss. With just two skeleton sleds and a steering mechanism, the earliest bobsleds did not have a chassis and was particularly thought of as dangerous. This changed when the Swiss added the chassis and the first bobsled club was founded in 1897.
Bobsledding as we know it today came about around the 1950s. The sport derived its name from the way athletes would bob back and forth to increase their speed. From the original wooden sleds came steel sleds, and then steel sleds made with fiberglass. The sport itself attracted athletes for different reasons, but removing the rule that limited the total weight of the crew and sled greatly contributed to the growing popularity of the sport not just with athletes but with everyone in general.
On the whole, bobsledding seems to be just about speed. However, as an athletic sport, or as a medal sport in the Olympics to be specific, athletes had to train and condition their bodies for strength and stamina.
Bobsledding had its Olympic debut in 1924 at the Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix, France. The first bobsled competition was a 4-man race between five countries, namely Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, and Switzerland. The Swiss won the competition, clocking in one second earlier than Great Britain.
In the following Winter Olympics, the 2-man race was added. This was during the 1980 Olympic Games held at Lake Placid, New York. Finally, the first women’s bobsled 2-man race took place in 2002 at the Winter Olympic Games at Salt Lake City.
So far, there have been 44 Olympic races of bobsledding since 1924; the country with the most medals is Germany with 10 gold. The most decorated bobsled athletes are Kevin Kuske and André Lange who have five medals each. Four of the five are gold medals which were won in three consecutive Olympics.
At the last 2014 Winter Olympics, 24 countries and 169 athletes participated in the bobsledding competition.
For more about John Kasper, bobsled history and interesting sports trivia, stay tuned to this page.