How Many G-Forces do you feel in a Bobsleigh
The amount of G-force experienced in a bobsleigh depends on a few main factors; the speed, the track, and the type of sled. Naturally the speed plays a huge part in the amount of force the athletes feel. A sled will accelerate for 90% of its trip, with most tracks ending with a short uphill section. This means that as the descent goes on, the forces felt get more and more intense.
A 4-man sled can reach speeds of up to 100mph, this means that the athletes can experience around 5 or 6 G’s in some of the harshest corners. Famously one American pilot was made shorter by 3-inches over his career by the forces exerted on his spine!
The design of the track plays as much of a part in the forces felt as the speed. The way a corner is designed, or the ice is cut can vastly change what is felt. If a corner has a very steep entrance, then that can be much rougher than if it is a smooth long entrance. Similarly some tracks have what is known as a “Kreisel” or a full 360 degree loop. This poses its own challenge for the athletes as the forces can be great, but in a corner that long athletes will need to hold their breath, or fight the G’s for several seconds. Not easy when you have just pushed as hard as you can!
A 4-man sled will experience harsher forces than a 2-man, mostly because of the size and the weight. However the person that feels them the worst is the brakeman at the back of a 4-man sled. Being at the back of the sled and behind the rear axle, whilst fully keeled over, their bodies are put under extreme pressure and some are known to pass out in the more extreme corners. Somewhat alarming when they are the ones that need to pull the brakes!