Road To The Olympic Games

Bobsleigh Glossary

A glossary of terms used in the sport of bobsleigh.

Articulation: The joint connecting the front section of a bobsleigh to the rear section.

Ballast: A weight that is bolted or clamped onto bobsleighs with lighter crews to ensure every team and sled is of maximum and equal weight.

Belly: The bottom section of a curve in the track.

Bobsleigh (also bobsled): A long sled made of fibreglass and steel with two sets of runners, a continuous seat, steering handles and brakes. A two-man sled weighs about 390 kilograms, while a four-man sled weight about 630kg.

Bo-Dyn: The trademarked name for a type of bobsleigh designed by NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine.

Brakeman: The last pusher to enter the sled at the start of a race. The brakeman is also responsible for applying the brakes at the end of a run by activating a grooved piece of metal that goes into the ice, thus stopping the sled.

Bumpers: The fins on the front and back of a bobsleigh used by crew members when they're loading.

Cowling: The hull of the bobsleigh, usually made of fibreglass.

D-Rings: D-shaped handles used to steer a bobsleigh.

Dresden: A type of sled named for the German city where it is made.

Driver: The athlete who guides the bobsleigh down the track by pulling on a two-ring-handled steering device. As a crew leader, the driver (also called a pilot) enters the sled first during a race and is often responsible for a large portion of sled maintenance.

FIBT: Bobsleigh's international governing body; Federation International de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing

G-Force: Term used to describe the gravitational force which holds both the sled and the athlete against the wall on a banked turn. The amount exerted on bobsleigh athletes can exceed five G's, which would make them feel like they weigh more than five times their actual weight.

Grooves: Guide channels cut into the ice at the starting area, allowing a sled to follow a straight line during the push start.

Kreisel: A type of bobsleigh run curve that forms a circle by having the track cross over itself; it is the German word for circle.

Labyrinth: A series of three or more curves, usually short, with little to no straightaway between them.

Langen: A type of sled named after its designer, Olympic gold medal-winning pilot Christoph Langen of Germany.

Line: The path taken by the sled down the track. Drivers look for the optimum line, the path the pilot believes is the shortest way down the track, with the least resistance.

Lip: A safety barrier at the top of the track to prevent sleds from running off course and sliding off the track.

Loading: Term to describe the athletes entry into the sled after the push start.

Number 2: The push athlete who sits behind the driver in a four-man bobsleigh race.

Number 3: The push athlete who sits behind the Number 2 push athlete in a four-man bobsleigh race.

Omega: A set of three large curves that are connected. From above, the shape resembles the Greek letter Omega.

Pilot: Another term for a bobsleigh driver.

Pod: Middle area of the bobsleigh where the brakeman and push athletes sit.

Push Athlete (also pusher): Athletes who help push the sled at the start of the race. In a two-man sled, there is one push athlete who is also the brakeman and enters the sled after the pilot. In a four-man sled, there are three push athletes. Two athletes push on the side and the brakeman pushes from the rear.

Push Bar: A push bar comes out from the side of a sled and is used to help increase the sled speed at the start. The driver's push bar is dropped shortly after the driver jumps in to steer. The brakeman's push bars are permanent round handles.

Push Start: The start of a bobsleigh race where the pilot and push athlete(s) push the sled down the track.

Roof: The top part of a track curve.

Run: A trip down a bobsleigh course; also called a descent.

Runners: Four metal blades upon which the bobsleigh rides. Bob athletes learn different sanding techniques and have different runners for various track and weather conditions. Alloy composition and shape can also determine runner performance.

S-curve: Two connected turns that travel in alternate directions.

Shades: Canvas covers used to protect the track from sun and debris between races.

Slider: A term for an athlete in sliding sports, like bobsleigh, luge or skeleton.

Transition: An area of a bob track that goes from a straight area into a curve.