The first bob was built by an Englishman in 1888. He mounted two sledges under a board and made the front part controllable via ropes. The first bobsleighs made of steel, some with steering wheels, were made in 1901. However, the rope pulling technology prevailed and so bobsleighs are steered to the two front stainless steel skids via rope hoists to this day. Over the years, the bobsleighs were built of steel and carbon fiber and aerodynamically optimized. Structure, material, size and distances are defined in detail today by the regulations of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association (IBSF).
This regulation includes three disciplines: women's two-man bob, men's two-man bob and men's four-man bob. The maximum weight including athletes is 325 kg for the women's two-man bobsleighs, 390 kg for men's and 630 kg for four-man bobsleighs. The demands on athletes are high, as top speeds of more than 150 km/h can be achieved. The pilots must have a very good responsiveness, excellent track feel and a pronounced fine motor skills. Even the smallest steering movements in the wrong place can take time or cause a fall. The differences between the top teams are usually only a few hundredths of a second in the finish.
Skeleton is considered the oldest winter sports competition discipline. In 1884, the first race was held in the "Cresta-Run" from St.-Moritz to Celerina. It is believed that the skeletal appearance gave the sled its name. It consists of a side-pulled, rigid tub with retaining brackets as well as side impact brackets in front and back. Precise regulations apply on the artificial ice rinks: the sled must be between 80 cm and 120 cm long and 8 cm up to 20 cm high. The maximum permissible weight of sled and athlete is 115 kg (92 kg women). The sled gether itself must not exceed the weight of 43 kg (women 35 kg). If the total weight of the sled with driver and equipment exceeds the maximum weight, the sled may alone weigh a maximum of 33 kg (women 29 kg).
The skeleton riders wear tight-fitting, unpadded suits, a helmet with chin protection and sprinter shoes with a maximum of 8 mm long spikes. With coordination, strength, speed, agility and willingness to take risks, they race down the ice channel, upside down and at up to 145 km/h. The chin is only a few millimeters above the ice and the arms lie sideways on the body. The athletes steer the skeleton with their shoulders, knees and toes.