USA Bobsled and Skeleton
Bobsled and skeleton tracks around the world
Bobsled and skeleton tracks aren't very common. They can't be constructed just anywhere, like a basketball gym or a baseball field. In fact, there are still continents that don't have any of these icy chutes (Africa, Antarctica, Australia and South America.) Until the construction of the sliding center in Pyeongchang, which will be the home of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, the tracks in Sochi, Russia and Nagano, Japan will remain the only two in Asia, the largest continent on planet Earth. The United States, a country which has dominated recent bobsled and skeleton Olympic events, has only two tracks (Lake Placid, New York and Park City, Utah.) The Federation Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing (FIBT) currently recognizes only 16 tracks around the world that are sanctioned to host FIBT competition and training. This article will serve as your guide through each of the 16 bobsled and skeleton tracks around the world.
Home of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games and situated on the Russian Riviera, the Sanki Sliding Center features the newest sliding track. The course travels 1,500 meters in length, with a vertical drop of 131 meters, making it one of the biggest ice roller coasters in the world.
2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games Medalists
St. Moritz, Switzerland
Home to the only natural track in the world that hosts international competition, the St. Moritz-Celerina Olympic Bobrun extends down its icy chute for 1,722 meters, dropping 130 meters at an average grade of 8.14%. St. Moritz, the birthplace of bobsled and skeleton, has hosted 17 FIBT World Championships, as well as the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympic Games.
1928 St. Moritz Olympic Games Medalists
1948 St. Moritz Winter Olympic Games Medalists
Considered one of the most difficult tracks in the world, the track in Altenberg has hosted the FIBT World Championships three times (1991, 2000 and 2008.) Sliders maneuver the icy chute for 1,413.2 meters at a downward grade of 15%.
No Winter Olympic Games have been held in Alternberg.
Boasting views of the city’s skyline, this track is one of the most utilized tracks in the world, hosting annual North American Cup and World Cup races. Originally built for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, the sliding center hosted the 1996 and 2005 World Championships.
1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Games Medalists
Cesana Pariol, Italy
Built for the 2006 Torino Winter Olympic Games, the Cesana Pariol track slides 1,435 meters, highlighted by a vertical drop of 114 meters. The track, accompanied by its neighboring indoor push facility, makes this an ideal place for athletes to train year-round.
For a first-hand experience from a sled, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZflanBCX0Q
2006 Torino Winter Olympic Games Medalists
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
Host of the 1956 Winter Olympic Games, the track in Northern Italy has accommodated the FIBT World Championships nine times. It was awarded the FIBT World Championship in 2011, but was forced to withdraw, due to its’ inability to accommodate the skeleton competition. With a maximum downhill grade of 15.9% , the track travels 1,350 meters in distance.
1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo Winter Olympic Games Medalists
The Olympic Sliding Centre Innsbruck in Igls has twice hosted the Winter Olympic Games (1964 and 1976.) It has also held the FIBT World Championships twice (1963 and 1993.) The 1,220-meter track was one of the first artificially frozen tracks in the world and features a 98.10 meter vertical drop.
1964 Innsbruck Winter Olympic Games Medalists
Königssee is located near the border of Austria, along Lake Königssee. The FIBT World Championships has made its way to this popular track five times, including 1990, which was a skeleton-only event. The town features one of Adolf Hitler’s homes, most commonly known as The Eagle’s Nest, which was built for him as a 50th birthday present. Athletes will often visit/climb to this destination. You can see the track from the top of the mountain. For more information on The Eagle’s Nest, please visit http://www.uncommon-travel-germany.com/hitlers-eagles-nest.html.
No Winter Olympic Games have been held in Königssee.
La Plagne, France
This beautiful track is situated perfectly in the French Alps, features a vertical drop of 124.5 meters over 1,507.5 meters of track. Built for the 1992 Albertsville Winter Olympic Games, it is artificially kept frozen. The track is also a part of the 2018 Annecy Winter Olympic Games bid proposal.
1992 Albertsville Winter Olympic Games
Lake Placid, New York
Situated in upstate New York, Lake Placid is one of two sliding tracks in the United States. It has been consistently ranked as one of the most difficult courses in the world. Athletes of the course experience 5.1 G-Forces as they travel 1,455 meters at an average speed of 130 km per hour. Lake Placid was the home for the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games, as well as nine FIBT World Championships, most recently in 2012. A new combined bobsled, skeleton and luge track was built for the 2000 Goodwill Games, and it was the first track to host world championships for the three sliding sports in the same season during a non-Winter Olympic year.
One of the many features of the Lake Placid track is the interactive bobsled ride for visitors. Experience what it is like to be inside a sled, driven by actual bobsledders. For more information on this unique opportunity, visit http://www.lakeplacid.com/do/family-fun/bobsled-rides-olympic-sports-complex.
1932 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games Medalists
1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games Medalists
Host of the 1994 Winter Olympic Games, which was just two years after the 1992 Albertsville Winter Olympic Games, the Lillehammer track is 1,365 meters in length with a 114 meter vertical drop. Compared to Lake Placid (5.1 G-Forces), sliders at Lillehammer feel 5.2 G-Forces. The track is heavily utilized by European nations for training purposes.
1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games
Nagano will remain the only sliding track in Asia, depending on how one classifies Sochi, Russia, until construction of Peyongchang’s course is completed for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Nagano has hosted the 2003 World Skeleton Championships, as well as the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. The two-man bobsled competition at the 1998 Winter Olympic Games will always be memorable, because there was not a silver medal awarded, but rather a tie for the gold medal by Canada and Italy. In the four-man competition, there was a tie for the bronze medal between France and Great Britain. The track is a daunting 1,762.3 meters in length, with a vertical drop of 112.5 meters.
1998 Nagano Winter Olympic Games
Park City, Utah
Park City, which is located right outside of Salt Lake City, played host to the bobsled and skeleton competitions at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. One of two sliding tracks in the United States, Park City is well utilized for World Cup and North American Cup events. The track spans 1,340 meters in length, with a vertical drop of 122.5 meters. The 2002 Salt Lake City Games introduced the world to the two-woman bobsled and the women’s skeleton competitions. The men’s skeleton competition was also added to the Games, breaking a 46-year hiatus. Similar to Lake Placid, Park City offers visitors a first-hand sledding experience. You will accompany a professional driver down 15 turns of the track, reaching 80 mph and five G-Forces. This is unlike any rollercoaster you have ever experienced. For more information and to book your trip today, visit http://utaholympiclegacy.com/activity/comet-bobsled-ride/.
2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games
This track once served as the training site for the Soviet Union and now is home to the Latvian national team. The track is 1,200 meters in length, with 16 curves. Sigulda, located near the capital city of Latvia, Riga, has hosted several World Cup skeleton events. Tourists are offered the experience of riding a bobsled, piloted by experienced drivers, down the track.
No Winter Olympic Games have been held in Sigulda.
The site of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games bobsled and skeleton events, Whistler is a popular resort town, situated in Blackomb Mountain. The Whistler Sliding Centre features a 1,450-meter track, with a vertical decline of 152 meters. Sliders will experience a 20% downward grade. Visitors are encouraged to slide down the track in a bobsled, winter or summer, for a very reasonable price.
2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games
One of Germany’s three sliding tracks, Winterberg is located on the Rhine River. The track hosted the first FIBT women’s bobsled World Championship in 2000, as well as the FIBT 19955 World Championship for men’s bobsled. In 2015, the bobsled and skeleton World Championships will return to Winterberg. This sliding track consists of 1,330 meters of ice, including a vertical drop of 110 meters.
No Winter Olympic Games have been held in Winterberg.
Cole McKeel - USBSF Marketing and Media Assistant, email@example.com, (719) 722-0522