The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation was founded in 1923. Bobsleigh made its Olympic debut at the 1924 Chamonix Winter Games.
Bobsleigh teams include a brakeman and a pilot in the two-man event, while two crewmen/pushers are added for the four-man race. From a standing start, the crew pushes the sled in unison up to 50 metres. This distance is typically covered in less than six seconds and speeds of over 40 km/h are reached before the crew loads into the sled.
Skeleton, which takes place on the same track or “run” as the bobsleigh, starts with a running "push" phase, after which the athlete dives onto the sled and descends the track. Athletes lie prone, facing downhill, with arms at their sides, steering the skeleton with movements of their body.
There are currently three bobsleigh events. Men and women compete in two-man/two-woman while men also compete in four-man. In skeleton there are only two events, individual men and individual women.
In both bobsleigh and skeleton, the competition takes two days, with two runs staged on each day. The four runs are timed to 0.01 seconds, and the fastest total time determines the winner. If two teams complete the competition in a tie, they are awarded the same place.
There is a definite advantage to being among the first down the track while the ice is still fresh and not rough and cut up. Therefore to determine which sliders get the best start positions, the starting order for the first heat of the Olympic Winter Games is based on the world rankings. The remaining start orders are based on the ranking after the preceding heat.