Bobsleigh For Dummies: A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide

If you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping winter sport, bobsleigh might be just the thing for you.

Bobsleigh is a high-speed, gravity-powered sport that involves teams of two or four sliding down a twisting, turning track of ice in a sled that can reach speeds of up to 80 miles per hour.

Whether you’re looking to compete or just want to experience the thrill of the ride, this beginner’s guide will teach you everything you need to know about bobsleigh.

History of Bobsleigh

Bobsleigh was first introduced as a winter activity in the late 1800s in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

The first recorded competition was held in 1898 and since then it has grown into an international sport with competitions held all over the world.

The sport was included in the Olympics for the first time in 1924 and has been a part of the winter games ever since.

Equipment Needed to Compete

To compete in bobsleigh, you will need several pieces of equipment. Here are the essentials:

Bobsleigh sled

The sled is the most important piece of equipment in bobsleigh. It is made of fiberglass and metal and can weigh up to 630 pounds. The sled is designed to glide smoothly down the track, with the help of special runners attached to the bottom.

Protective gear

Since bobsleigh involves high speeds and the potential for crashes, protective gear is essential. This includes a helmet, goggles, and padded clothing.


Bobsleigh shoes have spikes on the bottom to help the athlete grip the ice as they push the sled.

Timing equipment

In competitions, timing equipment is used to determine the winner. This includes a timing clock at the finish line and sensors throughout the track to track the sled’s speed.

Rules of the Sport

Bobsleigh has specific rules that must be followed during competitions. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Team size: Bobsleigh teams can be composed of either two or four athletes.
  • Start: The race begins with a running start, with athletes pushing the sled for the first few meters. The sled must be pushed at least 50 meters before the athletes can get in.
  • Turns: The track includes many twists and turns, and athletes must navigate them as quickly and smoothly as possible.
  • Finish: The race ends when the sled crosses the finish line, and the team with the fastest time wins.

Bobsleigh Tracks in the World

According to the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF), there are 17 competitive bobsleigh tracks used in for example the World Cup circuit.

Bobsleigh TrackLength
Altenberg, Germany1413 m
Bludenz, Austria750 m
Calgary, Canada1494 m
Innsbruck, Austria1478 m
Königssee, Germany1675.4 m
La Plagne, France1707.5 m
Lake Placid, USA1680 m
Lillehammer, Norway1710 m
Nagano, Japan1700 m
Oberhof, Germany1354.50 m
Park City, USA1570 m
Pyeongchang, Korea1659 m
Sigulda, Latvia1420 m
Sochi, Russia1814 m
St. Moritz, Switzerland1962 m
Whistler, Canada1700 m
Winterberg, Germany1330 m
Yanqing, China1975 m

How long is a bobsleigh track?

The median length of the professional bobsleigh tracks is approximately 1677.7 meters, and the average length is approximately 1609.72 meters.

Getting Started

If you’re interested in trying bobsleigh, there are several ways to get started. Here are a few suggestions:

Find a bobsleigh track

There are many bobsleigh tracks around the world, and some of them offer opportunities for public rides or lessons.

Join a bobsleigh club

Many cities have bobsleigh clubs that offer training and competitions for athletes of all levels.

Attend a bobsleigh school

There are several bobsleigh schools around the world that offer instruction and training in the sport, both for beginners and more experienced athletes.

Try a virtual experience

If you’re not quite ready to hit the track in person, there are virtual reality experiences that can give you a taste of what it’s like to ride a bobsleigh.

FAQs about Bobsleigh

How fast can a bobsleigh go?

A bobsleigh can reach speeds of up to 80 miles per hour.

Is bobsleigh dangerous?

Bobsleigh can be dangerous, as athletes travel at high speeds and crashes can occur. However, with proper training and safety equipment, the risk can be minimized.

How do you steer a bobsleigh?

The athletes in the sled use their body weight and the sled’s runners to steer the sled through the turns.


Bobsleigh is a thrilling winter sport that requires a combination of speed, strength, and agility. With the right equipment, training, and safety precautions, anyone can experience the rush of sliding down a bobsleigh track.

Whether you’re looking to compete or just want to try something new, this comprehensive beginner’s guide has everything you need to get started in bobsleigh.

Do you want to read more about different sports? Here’s our page for introductions to all kind of sports.