Rules of Bobsleigh | How it is Played?

Another exciting sport that is popular in cool and mostly ice-covered regions of the world. Bobsleighing is a winter sport in which teams run down narrow and twisting ice ranks in a gravity-powered sleigh.

The first ever Bobsled was built in Switzerland in the late 19th century by some wealthy tourists but the problem was the early built sleds were going down the streets, there was always a chance of collision and deadly accidents.

Rules of Bobsleigh

The game continued to evolve and soon it became a recognized game. In the winter of 1884, a famous hotel in Switzerland known as “Badrutt” built a run for this game near the hamlet of Cresta. It was a designated place for Bobsleighing and the game became safer than ever before.

Now, it is also part of the Olympics and two types of Bobsleigh are popular, 2-man Bobsleigh and 4-man Bobsleigh. Nowadays, all Bobsleigh tournaments are dominated by the USA, Switzerland and Germany, where the conditions remain ideal for practicing for the tournaments.

Object of Bobsleighing

Object of the game is simple, you have to reach the finish line first to become a winner. It’s the same as in any other race game, except the fact that there is no engine but you have to make your own speed before getting into the vehicle.

In some tournaments only 2 people sit in this vehicle while in some up to 4 can get inside it after pushing it down the run. The greater you push before getting into the vehicle the faster you go down and cover the distance.

And the most important thing, this race happens in turns. Basically it’s a race to get to the finish line in less time, the runways are so narrow that all vehicles can’t run alongside.

How to Play?

Bobsleighing is one of the dangerous sports in the world because it involves a single player or team sitting on the sled which goes down on an artificial snow surface. Players/teams do it individually, one at a time and the fastest to complete the lap wins the race.

But there is much more you need to learn before you fancy competing in a competitive Bobsleighing tournament: what kind of equipment are required, the maximum weight of a sled allowed and what happens when a team/player is caught violating any rule of the game. Make sure you read the whole article to learn everything and prepare yourself accordingly to compete at professional level.

General Rules of Bobsleighing

  • Bobsleigh vehicles have to meet the weight limitations. The logic is pretty interesting, the more the weight on the vehicle, the more quickly it will run down. Hence, the heavy vehicle would have a greater advantage over its peers.
  • A four-man vehicle can’t weigh more than 630kg. Two-man vehicles can’t weigh more than 390kg. A two-woman vehicle can’t weigh more than 340kg. All these weights are along with the crew members, not vehicles.
  • At the end of every race, a series of tests conducted to ensure the weight of every team along with the vehicle was under the weight restrictions. Any team violating this rule can be disqualified from the tournament.

Duration of a Bobsleigh Game

The time duration for one team’s turn depends upon the distance to be covered. Usually, a team covers one lap in less than 60 seconds.

Bobsleigh Field

The modern bobsleigh tracks are made of concrete and are coated with ice. Every track has at least one straight section and one labyrinth. Labyrinth refers to 3 turns in quick succession without a straight section.

Modern tracks are usually 1,200 to 1,300 metres long and have at least 15 curves.

Bobsleighing Equipment

Vehicle is the only equipment required for bobsleighing, which is pushed by the crew members. And this vehicle has steering equipment which helps the crew members to control their vehicle on extreme turns.

Vehicle: The aerodynamic sleds and various forms of light material is used in modern bobsleigh vehicles that make them extremely comfortable. These are engineless vehicles and depend on the gravity to pull them and maintain the speed level.

Steering Equipment: The bobsleigh track always has some turns and to ensure that drivers turn properly, two metal rings on either side of the vehicle are fitted. When the driver wants to turn left, he pulls down the left ring and vice versa.

Athletes are allowed to wear safety equipment for their protection. Like goggles, helmet, gumshield and spike shoes.

Roles of Bobsleighers

Bobsleighers have different roles, since they don’t get inside the vehicle right from the start, they push the vehicle until it has picked up some pace and then get inside as per their decided turns. Here is how roles are designated to bobsleighers in a team.

Pilot: Although very little amount of steering is required, it’s the pilot’s job who sits at the front to steer the vehicle on turns.

Brakeman: Brakeman pushes the brakes upon reaching the finish line.

Pusher: Although all 4 players push the vehicle but it’s the pusher’s job who pushes the vehicle till it has picked up some momentum and sits behind in the last.

Famous Bobsleigh Tournaments

Bobsleigh is popular in European countries and is also part of Olympic games. Let me name a few of the famous Bobseligh tournaments.

  • Olympics
  • World Cup
  • Women’s Monobob event

Various other unofficial tournaments are also held as there are multiple Bobsleigh federations active in different regions of the world.

Famous Bobsleigh Venues

Bobsleigh venues are specially designed for Bobsleigh games and it’s not a typical outdoor sport that can be played anywhere. Here are some of the famous Bobsleigh venues.

  • St. Moritz, Switzerland
  • Lake Placid, USA
  • Riessersee, Germany
  • Piste de Bobsleigh, France

Governing Body

The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF), also known as Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing (FIBT), in French, is the international governing body of the Bobsleigh. It was founded in 1923 with a member community consisting of France, Germany, Britain, USA and Switzerland. The current headquarter is located in Switzerland.