Know Your Winter Olympic Sports: Skeleton
By Jodie Sweitzer on Friday, November 8 2013

The Winter Olympics are only 90 days away! To celebrate, we’re kicking off our first Winter Olympic sport profile with Skeleton.

Skeleton is a type of sled racing in which a single rider travels head-first on their stomach down a frozen track. 

Athletes can achieve speeds of over 80 mph and endure G-forces similar to those experienced by jet pilots. Talk about an adrenaline rush!

Next Up: Skeleton at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics >>

Both the men's and women's competitions consist of four runs over two days. The United States leads the medal count, winning three gold medals and three silver medals to date.

At the 2010 Vancouver Games, first-time Olympian Amy Williams won the gold. She won Great Britain's only medal at the games.

In the men’s competition, first-time Olympian Jon Montgomery of Canada took home the gold. Another Canadian, Duff Gibson, won the gold at the 2006 Games.

Next Up: The history of skeleton >>

Skeleton has been an international sport for over 100 years! Here's a photo from the skeleton bobsleigh event during the 1948 Winter Olympics at St. Moritz. 

In 2002, skeleton returned to the Winter Games after a 54-year break. Women’s skeleton also made its Olympic debut at the Salt Lake Games.

Next Up: The equipment and how it's done >>

Skeleton uses the same track as the bobsleigh. A skeleton sled isn't much larger than an ironing board.

There is no steering system or brakes, so athletes direct the skeleton sled by moving their head and shoulders.


Fun fact: skeleton got its name from the appearance of the sport's first metal sleds… which looked like a human skeleton.

Make sure to check out skeleton at the Sochi Games February 13-15!

Sources: SB Nation, USOC, Encyclopedia Britannica, Federation Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing