Olympic History: Tobogganing is one of the oldest winter sports. Descriptions of it in the 16th century are found in literature. As a racing sport, it can be traced to the mid-19th century when British tourists starting sledding on the snowbound roads of the Alps. The original form of the sport was the skeleton sleds that were used on the Cresta Run at St. Moritz.
Skeleton sled racing owes it entire early history to St. Moritz and the famed Cresta Run. The sport developed in that Swiss resort town as a plaything for the rich. It was written by E. F. Benson in 1913, “There is one Mecca, there is one St. Peter’s, there is one Cresta. As is Mecca to the Mohammedan, as is St. Peter’s to the Catholic, so is the Cresta Run at St. Moritz to the tobogganer.”
British and American vacationers built the first toboggan run near St. Moritz, on the Klosters Road in nearby Davos, as early as 1882. In 1884, Major W. H. Bulpetts built a similar track down the Cresta Valley at St. Moritz. The first toboggan Grand National took place there in 1885, attracting 20 contestants. All sliders rode at that time in a sitting position. The prone, head-first position of skeleton racing was introduced about ten years later. The St. Moritz Tobogganing Club was founded in 1887, and Bulpetts developed the modern model of a skeleton sled in 1902.
For many years the most important races in skeleton, all held at the Cresta Run, were the Grand National and Curzon Cup. Twice the sport was contested in the Olympics, in 1928 and 1948, both times when the Winter Games were contested at St. Moritz. World Championships were first held in 1982 and a World Cup circuit for men and women was introduced in 1986.
At the IOC Executive Board Meeting in Athens on 2 October 1999, skeleton was given approval to return to the Olympic program for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, and it has remained on the Program since.
Skeleton is governed world-wide by the bobsled federation, the Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing (FIBT), not the luge federation, which might seem more appropriate. As of November 2013, the FIBT has 64 affiliated member nations, all of which are recognized by the IOC. This makes it the third smallest International Federation, after curling and luge, in terms of affiliated national federations.
The following nations are current members of the FIBT: American Samoa, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, US Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.