History of Bobsleigh

Bobsleigh History

Bobsleigh is a winter sport marked by intense twists and turns down an icy track. Competitors of the sport reach very high speeds by their simple movements in a sled powered by gravity. The quality and performance of the bobsleigh have improved dramatically since its creation in the late 19th century.

Bobsleigh History

The sport of bobsleigh was invented towards the end of the 19th century. During the 1860s, the sport was first introduced in Switzerland when riders attached a steering mechanism to a toboggan. Since then, Switzerland has had a rich history of success in bobsledding competitions. Around the same time, bobsledding developed in upstate New York, where locals modified a lumber sled. The sport was primarily used as entertainment for people who had the means to do it during the wintertime. In 1897, the world’s first bobsleigh club was created in St. Moritz, Switzerland. This was significant as it helped popularize winter sports in general.

The sport truly became official when the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation was founded in 1923. Bobsledding then made its first appearance in the Winter Olympics in 1924. During these Olympics, held in 1924, there was a four-man bobsledding event. At the 1932 Winter Olympics, a two-man bobsledding event was added.

Since 1924, bobsledding had been in every Winter Olympics except for the 1960 Winter Olympics held in Squaw Valley, California. In 1952, a rule was implemented that limited the total weight of participants. As a result, participants had to become a lot more athletic, which made the sport itself more competitive. In 1984, regulations around the construction of the bobsled were tightened. Having a more standardized bobsleigh helped limit the costs of developing and constructing one. The first Bobsledding World Cup wasn’t held until 1984 at the Sarajevo Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge Track in Bosnia. This event has taken place every single year since then. Prior to this, bobsledding did not have very many international competitions. 

In 2002, a women’s two-person bobsledding was included in the Winter Olympics. In 2003, more regulations were put in place for the kinds of runners used underneath the bobsleigh. All competitors had to use a certain type of steel, which helped further decrease the costs of constructing a bobsleigh. As a result, the sport has become more accessible for people from different countries. 

Women’s monobob was recently added as a new event to the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Key Dates And Facts Timeline

  • 1860s: Bobsleigh is invented by the Swiss who attached a steering mechanism to a toboggan, giving more control to riders
  • 1897: The development of winter sports is spurred by the creation of the world’s first bobsleigh club in St. Moritz, Switzerland
  • 1923: The Federation Internationale de Bobsleigh et Tobogganing (FIBT) is founded by delegates of Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Canada, and the United States
  • 1924: A four-man bobsleigh race is incorporated into the first Winter Olympics held in Chamonix, France
  • 1932: A two-man bobsleigh event is added to the Winter Olympics held in Lake Placid, New York
  • 1952: A rule is implemented that limits the total weight of participants and their sled, increasing the level of athleticism and competition in the sport
  • 1984: The first Bobsleigh World Cup is held at the Sarajevo Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge Track in Bosnia
  • 2002: The Women’s two-person bobsled event is introduced to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • 2015: The FIBT changes its name to the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF)
  • 2022: The Women’s Monobob event is introduced at the Winter Olympics held in Beijing, China


What is the history of bobsleigh?

Bobsledding was introduced in the late 19th century by the Swiss. Since then, it has grown in popularity with the help of exposure from the Winter Olympics. The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation was founded in 1923, which administers the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton while also maintaining a close relationship with the International Olympic Committee. Bobsledding first appeared in the 1924 Winter Olympics and had its first World Cup in 1984. In the 2022 Winter Olympics, a women’s monobob event was held for the first time.

Who invented bobsleigh?

To this day, there is a debate over who invented bobsledding. It is generally believed that the Swiss invented bobsleigh during the 1860s. People from the Swiss alps added a steering mechanism to a toboggan to develop the first bobsleighs. However, some evidence has surfaced that it was developed in upstate New York around the same period. People from this region implemented bobsledding with a lumber sled.

Where did bobsleigh start?

It is generally believed that bobsledding started in the mountains of Switzerland. The sport became very popular in this region during the late 19th century. The first bobsleigh club was formed in St. Moritz, Switzerland. However, others believe that bobsledding started around the same time in upstate New York. Lumbering towns in this region of the United States used lumber sleds to participate in a form of bobsledding.