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The coolest things about toboggans

 

Photo by Simon Lebrun licensed CC BY 2.0

The best thing about a big snowfall is taking your toboggan to the top of the nearest hill and zooming all the way to the bottom. Maybe not as fast as Guy Martin, who in 2014, zipped down a mountainside in Europe clocking in at a mind-blowing speed of 134 kph, but fast enough! “Toboggan” is from the Mi'kmaq word “tobakun,” which means sled. In fact, the Inuit made the first toboggans out of whale bone and used it to transport people and belongings across the snowy tundra.

Slip-slide your way through these fascinating tobogganing facts before you hit the slopes!

Who needs snowsuits?

Black and white painting of adults dressed up while tobogganing on white hills.
Public domain/Wikimedia

In the late 1800s, tobogganing was a pastime for adults. People even got dressed up for their trip down the hill. Men wore top hats and women dressed in their best clothes.

Longest toboggan run

There is a gondola in the foreground, with white Swiss alps in the background.
Photo by rockingroshan licensed CC BY 2.0

The longest toboggan run in the world is found in Grindelwald, Switzerland. It takes a 25-minute gondola ride and 2-hour hike to reach the start of the run. Then it’s all downhill from there. The toboggan run is 15 km long and takes about one hour to complete!

Different forms of tobogganing

Canadian's bobsledding team going at mind-blowing speed on the track at Vancouver's Winter Olympics.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Three Olympic sports were developed from tobogganing: bobsledding, luging, and skeleton racing.

Whatever gets you down the hill the fastest...


Photo by Lynn Eubank licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

At an annual sporting event in New Mexico, people don’t bother with a toboggan. Instead, they sit on metal shovels to race downs slopes.

Even animals toboggan...well, kind of

Chinstrap penguins on their tummies.
Photo by Liam Quinn licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

When penguins slide over snow and ice on their stomachs, it’s called tobogganing.

You can toboggan anywhere!

Man sledding down a sandhill.
Photo by David Fulmer licensed CC BY 2.0 

Toboggans can also be used on sand. People use special sleds to toboggan down sand dunes in places like Australia, Egypt, and South America. Even the Ancient Egyptians used large sleds to help transport objects across the desert.

Toboggan ride - with wheels!

A metal toboggan track winding through a forest.
Photo by David Berkowitz licensed CC BY 2.0

Tourists can ride a wheeled toboggan down the side of a mountain to get off the Great Wall of China. Riders hop aboard the toboggan and travel from the Wall to the valley below on a metal winding track. The trip takes about three minutes.