With the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics already off to a dramatic start, it’s time to get excited for the most dramatic competitions, including the sleigh sport of Skeleton. Similar to Luge, the key difference between the two sports is that Skeleton athletes race head-first on their stomachs atop a sled, rather than feet-first on their backs. Reaching speeds of around 90 mph with their faces an inch off the ice, Skeleton athletes are among the biggest daredevils of the Olympics.
While the name “Skeleton” certainly suits the scary sport, the name is actually derived from the first sleds used in the sport, which were referred to as the “bones” of a bobsled. The competition structure is simple; men and women each compete in four races with the top three fastest times awarded medals. Skeleton was first introduced around just before the turn of the 20th century, at a track called the Cresta Run in the Swiss resort town of St. Moritz. Skeleton was included in the Winter Olympics in 1928 and 1948, when St. Moritz hosted, and then did not return until 2002 due to safety concerns. This was also the first year that a women’s event was introduced.
The U.S. hold the record of eight medals won in Skeleton, followed by Great Britain at at six and Canada at four. Tune in to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to see what 2018 will hold.