Published: February 22nd 2010February 22nd 2010
Does everyone remember the post I wrote about luge? I said it was “the craziest sledding there is.” I take that back, it is the second craziest kind of sledding there is, and looks pretty calm when you compare it to the skeleton. Yikes!
My last event of the 2010 Winter Games, was by far the most amazing. Not “this is so beautiful” amazing, but more like “I can’t believe what I’m watching” type of amazing. I rather enjoy extreme sports, and even participate sometimes. In fact, of any Olympic sport outside of skiing, I would have most likely enjoyed being a skeleton athlete. After seeing what this is, in person, ABSOLUTELY NOT! I’ll explain why, in a little bit.
This event took place at the same track the luge (and bobsled) used, which I had watched a few days ago. It was nice knowing the track, where the good spots are to watch, and what to expect. Things did change a bit, however, the luge moved its start down the track a little to decrease speeds. The skeleton, because they need the proper distance to run with their sled before jumping on, had to start from the very
top starting chute since it is the only start that is long enough.
I headed straight up the track, a thigh burning walk uphill, to get as close to the start as I could. Different from the luge, where they start in a sitting position, the skeleton starts in a sprinter position, with one hand on the sled. They take off, pushing the sled along the ice, and at the optimal time, spring their bodies forward onto the sled, in a belly-flop kind of motion. They tuck their hands under their bodies for the best aero-dynamics, and away they go. It is an ultra unique, ultra exciting part of the races.
Since I’m comparing and contrasting skeleton and luge, I’d like to share with you the three things I learned while I was at the skeleton races.
1) Runners- The runners, or the long metal bars under the sled that touch the ice, are much different between the two sports. Luge runners are more beveled, or sharper, than the skeleton runners. It allows the luge runners to steer the sled much easier because it tracks the ice much more. The skeleton runners are more round. In fact,
as I watched the racers on the track, I noticed they had a little side to side motion at times, lateral motion. I never saw that with the luge.
This actually makes steering quite difficult. The athletes steer mainly by dragging their feet behind them, and turning their shoulders. Much more than the luge, I saw skeleton racers hitting the walls with their shoulders, probably because of this lack of steering.
2) Speed- One big issue at these Olympics was the speeds reached at the Whistler Sliding Center. This has been an issue even before the Olympics began, and some athletes were concerned about this. The tragic accident and death of the Georgian luger brought this into everyone’s mind. Both luge and skeleton speeds are similar, they are often clocked at 90 mph. At the Whistler track, the racers are going over 40 mph by the time they reach the first turn!
3) SKELETON RACERS GO HEADFIRST! (I know we all knew that, but it is unbelievable to see this in person!)
It is such an unbelievable sport to watch. At such high speeds, the racers were hitting the top of the huge banked turns (there was
a wall built on the top to prevent them from leaving the track- probably into outer space), which the lugers never came close to hitting. Pair that with a lack of good steering, and smashing the walls as you go down, skeleton is by far the craziest sport in the Olympics, and maybe on earth!
Now you can see, the idea of me enjoying being a skeleton athlete is probably a bad one. To those of you skeleton athletes that might read this- Wow, I’m amazed at you!
With what you’ve learned in this entry, and your own research, use your information to make a Venn Diagram comparing similarities and differences between the two sports of luge and skeleton.
The gate distances for the olympic alpine skiing events, from smallest to largest are…
Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super G, Downhill
(the Super Combined event doesn’t fit into the list because it is a combination of 1 slalom run and 1 downhill run)
How did you do?
There are more photos below