The Science Of Skeleton

By: Carson Hegler


Have you ever been on a sled going 80 MPH or more down an ice track head first? Read about Skeleton and learn how these people go so fast and what equipment they need to do so.

How Its Played

-Beginning- This sport started out on icy roads when people used their sleds to go head first down a road as fast as they could. The first organized game of skeleton was held around the 1800's with people of all ages participating.

-Danger- Very high speeds do occur when you put heavy man on a sled with very little friction down an icy track. So to prevent injury sleds have bumpers around the edges to keep the rider from scraping against a side wall, but crashes do happen and when they do , the rider can have minor to major injuries, so hopefully they know how to steer.

-Winning- To win you must navigate the track as quick as you can while going 80 MPH or faster. During the Olympics the sliders for the skeleton, ride on the same track as the sliders for the luge.


-No Brakes?- Skeleton has very high speeds and it doesn't help to know that your sled has no brakes! So how do you stop? You don't, your trying to go as fast as you can, why would you need brakes ? You don't need to stop your self until the end. The way they stop themselves is at the end, there is a long strip of foam, when the blades of the sled hit that they can't go any further.

-High speed crashes- Skeleton can be dangerous if you don't know how to take a crash and if don't have the right equipment. High speed crashes can occur. When they do it's not good that's why in the arenas, EMS are on stand-by.

-Equipment- Special equipment is needed in skeleton like, bumpers to absorb shock, the frame to hold the sled together, leather gloves to get more grip on the sled, handles for the starting push, helmet for head protection safety1st, elastic racing suit for speed, sharp spiked shoes for digging into ice on the start, and of course the sliders sled. This equipment can be the difference between 1st and 2nd place.


-All in the start- When racing in skeleton you need to be fast in the race as well as the start. The start is everything if you don't go fast then its really herd to win. What you need to do is maximize your starting speed and minimize your air resistance also known as drag.

-Hold on and melt in- Skeleton as you know is very fast. So how do they go that fast, aerodynamics is how. They try to become one with the sled. To help there are long rails on the sled the slider lays between them and puts his arms on the other side of the rails then relaxes to melt in then gravity does the rest.

-Air resistance- When your going 40 MPH down a freeway and you put your hand out the window it goes back unless you hold it in place. Imagine double that speed with your whole body out the window you would loose grip and fly out away from the car. That's how skeleton competitors feel every run, that's why they hold on and melt in. To reduce drag, for one thing it slows them down for another they would loose their sled!

Interesting fact

Did you know that skeleton made its Olympic debut in 1928 but didn't return until 1948 then didn't come back until 2002 but has stayed ever since?


This sport has very high speeds and dangerous crashes but the right equipment, and knowledge of physics and you can be the best.
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