More High Fives Blogs
- Volleyball - bump... set... SPIKE!
- Bobsledding - The Extreme Toboggan
- Diving, Take the Plunge!
- Walking - Start Your Own Walking Club
- Fencing, en garde!
- Sports: Curling
- Competitive Swimming
- Rugby...for girls?
December 2009 Blogs
- Real Girl: Leah
- Guys, the media?... who's to blame for the way girls behave?
- Bobsledding - The Extreme Toboggan
- Fabulous Festive Decorating Ideas ...for the Holidays
- Holiday Fashion - What are YOU going to wear?
- Secret Dieting - What if your period stops?
- Applying Blush, Coloured Hair Streaks
- Working Your Way Up
- BATHROOMS - 7 Tips To Get Yours Organized
- Ask a Guy - smells, holiday foods, traditions and memories
- Ask a Girl - smells, holiday foods, traditions and memories
Bobsledding - The Extreme Toboggan
HIGH FIVES, December 2009, by Karen Demers
The Extreme Toboggan
As a little girl while I watched the Olympics, I was always fascinated with the bobsleigh event. People wore these tiny suits and fought to get their sled down the track the fastest. It was exciting and dangerous – are they going to slip, I wondered? Will the sled make it down the track without crashing? Even 'just' tobogganing down the icy hills in a park is an adventure. It gives you a sense of freedom and joy. I wonder what it would be like to go extreme tobogganing? Read on to find out more!
Tobogganing has been around for centuries. It wasn’t until the late 19th Century in Switzerland that someone had the brilliant idea to attach a steering mechanism to a sled. After that, bobsledding began to grow across Europe. Clubs were opened at winter resorts and races were held on weekends on natural ice courses, down hills or mountains. The original racing sleds were made of wood and it wasn’t until after the sleds were made of steel that the bobsled got its name. The crews in the sled bobbed back and forth to increase their speed on track straightaways and that's how the sport got its name.
1923 was a milestone year for the sport. The ‘Federation International de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing’ (FIBT) was founded and the sport earned its first Olympic appearance in Chamoinx France the next year. During these early competitions, the athletes did not do any training. Participants would buy or rent a sleigh, take a few practice runs before the competition and then compete. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the modern sport of bobsledding took place. Strong, fast athletes from other sports like track and field, football and gymnastics were drawn to the sport. The importance of a strong, fast start was recognized and countries began to put together crews built on power and strength. In 1952 a new rule that limited the amount of total weight between crew and sled ended the years of the heavyweight bobsledder brought new, hybrid athletes to the sport. Bobsledders began to train year round to find the right balance between being powerful, fast and light on their toes all at the same time. In the 1980s the World Cup of Bobsledding appeared, giving teams more reason to train and compete. Since then, the sport has continued to grow.
In Canada, the turning point for bobsledding was when Calgary, Alberta hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics and a brand new state of the art training facility was developed. After that, Canadian bobsledders like Chris Lori and Pierre Leuders burst onto the scene. The building of the Olympic facility in Calgary also brought a new beginning for Canadian women who wanted to get into the sport. Sue Calvert and Sigi Feuser were among the first women to compete in the national championships against men and blazed a trail for other women to follow. In the 2002 Winter Olympics, women’s bobsledding became an official event and Canadian Women Champions like Christina Smith, Paula McKenzie, Helen Upperton and Heather Moyse have represented Canada ever since.
If you want to go tobogganing, grab a sled and head for the hills! However, if you want to eventually compete on the national level then be prepared for hours of training. It is important to start building up your strength and develop a powerful body. Also, talk to some of your track and field friends. One of the key components of a race is having a quick burst of speed at the start. The push start is much like the start of a race when athletes explode out of the blocks during a track event. Get hooked up with your Provincial Bobsled Association and find out if they offer any training camps that you can attend.
I am sure you all remember your first time down a snowy hill on a sled! That’s where it all begins. As a teenager, this is the time for proper strength training and skill development to begin and once you have that is covered it’s off to the races!
"Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton (BCS) is looking for hard working, motivated athletes with explosive power, strength and speed.” (http://www.bobsleigh.ca/BobsleighRecruitment.aspx) Hear that ladies – it’s time to pump some iron!!
All riders wear helmets, spiked racing shoes and skin-tight suits that allow the wind to blow right past them. The driver wears goggles and sometimes gloves to manoeuvre the steering ropes. Elbow and shoulder pads are sometimes worn over racing suits. Also, last but not least, don’t forget about the bobsled!
A typical membership fee at a Provincial Club is $100. Members are eligible to compete in the Canadian Championships and are allowed use of the equipment. This typically includes the use of sleds, a training sled on wheels and electronic timing.
Sled: Sleek, aerodynamic machine constructed of Fiberglas and steel.
Runners: Two highly polished steel sliders on which the sled rides. These runners are controlled by rope inside the sled that allows the pilot to control the runners.
Pilot: Driver of the sled.
Brakeman: Sits at the back of the sled and controls the speed by applying the brakes at appropriate times.
Course: Track on which the race is conducted. The majority of tracks today are manufacture through refrigeration and artificial ice and range between 1200 and 1650 meters in length. Sleds can reach speeds of up to 100km/h while travelling downhill!
Helen Upperton has created a name for herself as one of the world’s top bobsled pilots. She was born in Kuwait and traveled throughout the world due to her parents’ career in the oil industry. Helen went to college at the University of Texas where she excelled as a triple jumper. Due to her success, she was recruited to join Bobsleigh Canada and she made the move to Calgary. Her breakout year was 2005-06 when she won Canada’s first ever World Cup gold medal in women’s bobsleigh and finished in fourth place at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. This was Canada’s highest-ever Olympic placing in the women’s event. Helen and her team now train for the upcoming 2010 Olympics in Vancouver where they hope to move up the ranks.
Why others should consider bobsleigh?
Getting into bobsledding brings about a world of adventure and excitement. It takes a childhood past time to the extreme! Bobsledding is a unique sport with a small community that carries a great deal of passion. You have the chance to represent your country at international competitions while traveling the world!
December 2009 - Partners
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Karen Demers, high fives, feel like you…only better, bobsledding, bobsleigh, Olympics, tobogganing, racing sleds, Federation International de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing, World Cup of Bobsledding, 1988 Winter Olympics, Canadian bobsledder like Chris Lori, Pierre Leuders, Sue Calvert and Sigi Feuser, Christina Smith, Paula McKenzie, Helen Upperton, Heather Moyse, Provincial Bobsled Association, helmet, spiked racing shoes, goggles, bobsled, runner, pilot, brakeman, course, international competitions