What is Skeleton?
Skeleton is a sliding or toboggan sport involving a single rider on a sled barreling down a track face forward. Related Olympic sports include bobsled/boblseigh and luge, but skeleton differs in that riders lie straight on their stomachs. While competitive sled racing began in 1882, the first skeleton track was established in St. Moritz, Switzerland in 1913. While skeleton was featured early during the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics, decades passed before the sport reappeared at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
How to Learn Skeleton
The best skeleton racers are in great physical condition, with many being former track and field athletes. While more weight allows the sled to travel faster down the track, having lean muscle mass allows athletes to quickly turn the metal sled at high velocities around sharp curves.
A key aspect for skeleton beginners to learn is the correct pose on the sled. Facing forward, riders should lift up their chins to allow better sight down the track, while also keeping their toes pointed back and slightly up into the air. Of course, mastering the correct steering technique takes hours of practice. Skeleton can be quite the challenge!
Where to Participate
Skeleton is not for the faint hearted and certainly not the most beginner friendly sport in the world. Unfortunately, only 18 tracks exist in the world for bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton. In the United States, that means trying to find a skeleton track is limited to searching in either Lake Placid, New York or Park City, Utah.
For the adrenaline seekers who really want to learn skeleton, Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid offers a skeleton beginner experience for riders 13 years old and up. The Olympic Sports Complex track starts riders at Start 5 and allows riders to travel up to 30 miles per hour. As of 2018, the experience costs $75, and operates based on season and weather conditions.
Individuals who are serious about training to become a skeleton racer may consider contacting an Olympic skills or development camp situated near one of the track sites.
Equipment used in skeleton include the sled itself, a helmet designed specifically for the sport, and a set of goggles or a face shield. Olympic athletes also wear speedsuits, spiked shoes, and optional elbow pads. For those who are able to participate in a class, the majority of this equipment is provided at the track. The USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation website even offers a page which has used skeleton and bobsled equipment for sale.
Beginner Tips and Technique
International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation
USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation