Olympic History: Bobsledding as a sport originated in Switzerland in 1886 when an Englishman, Wilson Smith, connected two sleighs with a board to travel from St. Moritz to Celerina. Bobsledding was first practiced on the Cresta Run at St. Moritz but the run was not suitable for the faster bobsleds, so a separate bob run was constructed there in 1904, the world’s first. Prior to that time, local roads around St. Moritz were used for bobsled races. The first bobsled club was formed in 1896 by Lord Francis Helmsley of Britain at St. Moritz.
Bobsledding was on the program of the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924 with a single four-man event. In 1928, the event was one for sleds with either four- or five-men. In 1932, the current men’s program of two events, one for two-man sleds, and one for four-man sleds, began. Bobsledding has been contested at all Olympic Winter Games except for 1960 at Squaw Valley. Because of the distance to travel to California, only nine countries indicated that they would enter bobsled teams. The Squaw Valley organizers thus decided not to build a bob run and the sport was not held that year.
Bobsledding at the Olympics was contested for men only through 1998. In October 1999, the IOC approved the addition of women’s bobsled to the Olympic Winter program and women competed for the first time at Salt Lake City in 2002 in the two-woman bobsled event.
Bobsledding is governed world-wide by Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing (FIBT). 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.
One thought on “Bobsledding Factsheets”
Wilson Smith, my grandfather, was American not English…
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