The Risk and Joy of Bobsledding

Most probably bobsledding originated in winter climates as an entertaining recreational activity, but it was also used as a practical means to transport hay, firewood, small animals, tools, furniture, and people between various perpendicular locations. Sledding is as old as humans and many of the prevalent forms of sledding have roots in the Scandinavian countries, and principally in Switzerland in the village of St. Moritz. In today’s modern times, the forms of sledding that have been amalgamated into Olympic sports consist of bobsledding, skeleton racing and luge. During the 1870's these three sporting events are attributed with originating in St. Moritz when foreign tourists collaborated with local Swiss artisans to alter the delivery boy's sleds and utilize them in numerous unique forms of racing contests.


John Kasper Olympics had a storied career as a professional bobsledder, culminating in his participation in the USA Winter Olympic bobsledding team in 1998, prior to entering his career in healthcare operations development.

The fun associated with bobsledding is closely related to the amount of risk and speed involved. In the present day, there are four chief types of sleds generally used: runner sleds that can be navigated and steered, and the discs, tubes, and toboggans, which cannot be steered. All of them are thrilling to ride and much of the excitement comes from the speed and the lack of control experienced during a ride. The first sled down a snow-white slope often sets the course for those who follow, establishing the turns and twists, and the proximity to dangers such as cliffs, ditches, fences, rocks and trees. As the paths get worn into ruts, and the snow gets packed down into ice, the speed increases, as well as the exhilaration. In many cities and towns, definite neighborhoods are seasonally blocked off on weekends from vehicle traffic to permit children a safe bobsledding area down steep hillside streets. Teenagers add to the fun by raising their arms above their heads, closing their eyes, turning around backward, riding on the shoulders of their friends, lying on their stomachs, and jumping off and onto of moving ramps and sleds.

In the United States alone, every year, there are more than 20,000 children injured in sledding accidents and one out of every 25 sled injuries entails hospitalization. Consider it or not, most of these bobsledding injuries are sustained by children riding runner sleds in a horizontal position. These are the steerable wooden sleds with a graspable handle on each side and a half radius steel strap in front. One would believe that the sled design that is steerable would be the safest, but such is not the circumstance.

According to John Kasper Olympics , most injuries are to the riders themselves in the form of finger and hand injuries that get caught under or between the runners resulting in breaks, cuts, and bruises, and eye and teeth injuries from high speed impacts. Due to lesser friction, the runner sleds go much faster than the platform types and consequently, they attain greater speeds occasioning in more accidents. A great number of bobsledding injuries are caused by collisions with other individuals on the slope and with objects such as rocks and trees. All in all it is a very precarious sport indeed.
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