Sledding Information

Sledding , sled-riding , sledging or tobogganing is a common activity in wintry areas, similar to sliding, but in a prone or seated position requiring a device or vehicle generically known in the US as a sled or in other countries as a sledge or toboggan. More formally it is one of three olympic sports— the Luge, Skeleton, or bobsledding, all of which are based on sled principles and developed in the same time and place by much the same circle of people, mainly English tourists with an interested assist from the worthy craftsmen of that Swiss village.

The generic US term sledding, refers to traveling down any sort of snowy hill typically using flat, plastic discs, although sledges made with wooden slats and metal runners, or many other improvised sledges can also be used. The activity has been known to exist as a fringe recreational activity far into the distant murky past in toboggan type sleds which seasonally supplant the ubiquitous cart, wheelbarrow, and small hand pulled wagon for winter work needs in the agrarian societies of the day, or winter yard work even today. A sled, sleigh, or sledge, as a work vehicle, is far more efficient and easier to motivate in ice and snow covered terrain than wheeled vehicles, including even the simple wheelbarrow. Wheels simply pile up snow in front of themselves in the direction of travel and create a great deal of rolling friction which must be over come to move a load of firewood or fodder for the cattle.

Modern sledding began in St Moritz during the early 1870s when British visitors with more time than activities began to experiment and play around with boys' delivery sleds for recreation at the dawn of winter resorting in winter climes. Soon they were brainstorming on how to steer the old fashioned flat bottomed toboggan's typical of the time and added runners whilst terrorizing the pedestrians as they used the narrow lanes and streets of the picturesque town as a run and subsequently took to racing. Soon the Bobsled, Luge, and Skeleton were developed in succession. By mid-decade, Kulm hotel owner Caspar Badrutt had the first run or course purpose built for the fledgling sport, and alpine events began amongst the privileged leisure set.

Wikipedia, Sledding, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sledding (as of Apr 12, 2010)

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