How would you like to slide down a very steep and winding track of ice on something very similar to a tea tray at around 140km per hour? Yes, no, maybe. Well, there are people out there who can and do want to. And what’s more, they’re really rather good at it.
Alongside Bobsleigh and Luge, the Skeleton is one of three sliding sports that take place on artificially refrigerated ice tracks. It’s a really white knuckle experience as each skeleton athlete pushes their sled one handed away from the start before lying down with their face first as they travel the track, using their shoulders, knees and toes for steering.
The track isn’t simply a straight line, as each athlete must safely navigate themselves through several twists and turns on a sled that offers very little in the way of protection should they make a mistake and come off.
To ensure any meetings with cold hard ice are few and far between, each athlete must be at their very best, with lightening quick reaction times, as well as having mental and physical strength. A little bit of assistance from the latest technology has to offer is always welcome too though.
Being the oldest sliding sport gives it an important place in Winter Sports. Dating back to the 1800s, it’s now a huge part of the Winter Olympics. The British Skeleton team will be sending four athletes to Sochi in February – Shelley Rudman, Lizzy Yarnold, Kristan Bromley and Dominic Parsons.
“I am delighted to be selected for Team GB for my 3rd Olympics and take great pride in that achievement alone; when I started out in Skeleton I would never have thought that was possible! My first Games in Turin in 2006 where I won the silver medal was a hugely positive experience for me’.
“I am incredibly proud to be selected for my 4th Olympic Winter Games; representing your country at the Olympics is the pinnacle of any sport and the stuff that dreams are made of.
With their explosive speed and super fast reactions, there are high hopes for British success. Having mastered their speedy start and expecting to cover the first 50m in no more than five seconds, they will then brave the Sochi track as it speeds them towards the end.
The track is so fast that it actually finishes slightly uphill to help the athletes slow down at the end. Imagine that? There are no brakes on a skeleton sled-it will all be down to the athletes skill and the incline of the track to reach the finish safely. Do you still fancy having a go? Or would you rather marvel at their bravery and skill from the comfort of your sofa?
Further reading – Check out these amazing helmet designs
Iona is a freelance writer on a range of subjects. She writes about her life and that of her family on her blog