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We will construct our new bobsled

¹ 11-12 (2011)
Viewed: 2378

Bobsleigh development in Russia depends on building of new tracks and introduction of high technologies.

Bobsleigh is traditionally considered one of the most spectacular winter sports where teams of two- and four slide down ice track. «The winter Formula 1», as fans and specialists call it, attracts by space speeds, intense struggle and extreme, invariably accompanied with serious traumas and even death of sportsmen.

Sport īf rich and extreme people

Bobsleigh as a sport originated in Switzerland in the end of a XIX-th century, when in one of the most well-known Alpine resorts Saint-Moritz, for greater extreme English tourists attached together two usual sledges and began speeding down in groups of two, three-and four. In 1887 in the same Saint-Moritz the first boblseigh rules of competitions were developed and first bobsleigh club was founded. From the beginning of XX-th century Austria and Germany joined bobsleigh movement. In 1904 special sledge for bobsleigh — bobsled were designed for the first time. For a long time bobsleigh remained a sport for very rich people. Everything changed in 1923, when bobsleigh was officially recognized the professional sport, the International Federation of Bobsleigh and Tobogganning was founded. A year later the Olympic debut of bobsleigh in Chamonix took place.

Bobsleigh began to acquire modern features in 1950-th. Sportsmen were not only sliding down the slope, — they payed now more attention to pushing of sleds. Then universal building of artificial tracks for bobsleigh with special platforms for pushing began.

Lettish pace-setters

The domestic sports management ignored bobsleigh for a long time, considering it «the bourgeois entertainment, which did not do any good to the society». However, active spreading of this sport and interest, which it provoked during the Olympic competitions, did their part. In the late seventies the Sport committee of Soviet Union began to form national team by an order. The first enthusiasts were former tobogganers from Latvia led by captain Roland Upatnieks. At the same time building of modern bobsleigh track was coming to an end in Sigulda. Nobody thought to buy expensive import technics for the Soviet sportsmen. The curator was found — Riga automobile factory which took upon itself the responsible mission of constructing the first domestic bobsled. Reorganization and breakdown of the USSR fatally affected the image of domestic bobsleigh. The material and technical basis remained in independent Latvia, as well as the majority of sportsmen of the international level. For some years Russians were left out of the world powers of bobsleigh. They rose from ashes in 2004 after the new head of State Committee on Physical Trainig and Sports Vyacheslav Fetisov had generously allocated from the budget several thousand euro for purchase of worthy racing technics and long trips abroad, and also on buying of the well-known brothers Zinger. The Russian Renaissance appeared to be unpleasant unexpectedness for the deserved grandees of world bobsleigh — Germans, Swisses, Canadians and Italians. The following step in the strategic development program of the Russian bobsleigh — building of our own high-quality bobsleigh track.

From Meleuz to Sochi

The first experience of building of present bobsleigh tracks our specialists got in Sigulda — it was built by Yugoslavs according to the German project. During hard 1990-th nobody thought about similar projects in Russia. A track is very expensive pleasure. The ice track 1,5-2 km long should be equipped by the powerful pipes-refrigerators, capable to keep minus temperature at least five months a year. Up-to-date track in Paramonovo, opened in the spring of 2008 by president Dmitry Medvedev and costing$45 million is going to become portent of its new development era. It is designed and built on the basis of exclusively Russian technologies and enterprises. Sochi track should impress world bobsleigh public even more.

The largest bobslei world tracks

Konigssee (Germany)

This track adjoins northern extremity of lake Konigssee in Germany and is first-ever constant bobsleigh track with artificial cooling. First international competitions — the World tobogganing championship — took place there in 1969. Konigssee track was included in the list of sports constructions in the Austrian Salzburg application for carrying out of winter Olympic Games-2014. In October, 2008 it was announced about forthcoming reconstruction of the track in 2010-2016. It is connected with German Munich application for carrying out of winter Olympic Games-2018.

Lake Placid (USA)

 Olympic bobsleigh track was opened in 1997, and the construction of all complex came to the end in autumn of 2000. In 2000/2001 the track received seven various World Cups, after which was called the fastest in the world. The total track length is 1335 metres, height drop — 117 metres. 12,5 thousand people can watch competitions simultaneously.

Saint-Moritz (Switzerland)

Unique bobsleigh track in the world with a natural ice covering of 1612 metres length (Saint-Moritz — Celerina). The place for national and international competitions, bobsleigh World Cup. Speed — 150 km/h. Over bobsleigh track start there is the stone of druids reminding of the first inhabitants of these places — the Celtic tribes living here in the first millenium BC.

Sigulda (Latvia)

The bobsleigh track is constructed in 1986 and provided both for bobsleigh, and for tobogganing. The total length of the track (with a braking distance) — 1420 metres, consists of 16 bends. Track length for men's start — 1200 metres, for women's — 1000 metres. The maximum track slope — 15%, the maximum speed — 125 km/h.

Altenberg (Germany)

One of the most steep and difficult tracks in the world. Difficult because of alternate long slopes and very steep bends. Professionals say, that this track offers the greatest risk «to fall on a head», that is to take off from track. To make such effect, the line in Altenberg was reconstructed for seven times, and the total height drop was increased up to 500 metres!

Fast ice bloody harvest


The real bloody drama took place on Chamonix track. The bobsled going down at great speed turned over and ran into badly fixed track board. Both pilots died. Nevertheless, the heats continued that day! As a result, after a while, a sportsman dropped out of sledge and broke his cervical vertebras. Only then organizers stopped competitions.


German sportswoman Ivonn Tsernota died on March, 12th, 2004 as a result of accident on Konigssee track. Her bobsled turned over during training, ran into track board and took off the track. The sportswoman died in the medical helicopter on the way to hospital. Her heat partner Stefan Grandi broke his arm.


On November, 23rd, 2009 during training heat on Konigssee bobsleigh track, Russian women crew of two Nadezhda Filina and Irina Skvortsova came out on a track on red light, because of judge's mistake. The bobsled turned over, and the Russian man's crew starting from another gate (Evgeny Pashkov and Andrey Matyushko) ran into it at full speed.


Terrible accident happened some hours before the beginning of official opening ceremony of winter Games-2010. In mountain cluster Whistler, situated 120 km far from Vancouver, training bobsleigh heats were held. The Georgian sportsman Nodar Kumaritashvili very quickly passed the distance and, on 16th turn, already finishing, having gained great speed, he lost control of the sled and ran into a concrete barrier. According to some information, his speed at the moment of accident was about 150 km/h.

Author: Sergey Semyonov