The first skeleton runs were natural tracks, built in Switzerland in the late 19th Century and capitalized on the recreational popularity of tobogganing. Straight downhill courses were modified by adding curves to make the runs more interesting and challenging. The first official toboggan race was in 1884 and the first known skeleton event was in 1887. In fact, it was skeleton racing which laid the foundation for the sport of bobsleigh.

The two sports were brought together in 1923, when the Federation Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing was created. "Skeleton" first appeared in the Olympic program in 1928, and then again in 1948, both times the Games were held in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It was actually "Cresta", which is unique to St. Moritz, with it's own track and sled.

The modern era of Canadian participation in skeleton racing began in 1986 with the opening of the Calgary track. Sliders had much to learn about technique from the much more experienced European competitors. The Austrians and Swiss dominated the sport until the mid'90's, when Calgary's Ryan Davenport and his custom built sleds surged to the fore. Davenport remains the sports only two-time World Champion (winning in 1996 and 1997). He also won the overall World Cup title in 1996, and was runner-up on two other occasions.

Davenport retired shortly after the IOC announcement in October 1999 that men's and women's Skeleton would be on the program for the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, and became the coach of the US program, which captured both gold medals at those games.

Canadian women have been prominent in the sport, since the first officially sanctioned women's international race was held in Konigssee, Germany in 1996. Michelle Kelly won her first race later that same season – the start of many successes for Canadian women. At the first ever women's World Championships, in 2000 in Igls, Austria, Mellisa Hollingsworth captured the silver medal. Canadian success continued, when Lindsay Alcock brought another silver medal home to Canada, from the 2004 World Championships in Konigssee, Germany.
Following the tradition of Davenport, our Canadian men have had many podium results over the past several seasons. Jeff Pain won the silver medal at the 2001 World Championships held in Calgary, as well as several other World Cup medals. Canada's veteran, Duff Gibson, became the World Champion for his excellent performance at the 2004 World Championships in Konigssee, Germany.

Canada qualified a full team to the 2002 Games, but left the games empty handed. Leading into the 2006 Olympic Games Canada had established itself as the strongest team in the world.  In Torino, Canada dominated the men’s event with Gold (Duff Gibson), Sliver (Jeff Pain) and a fourth place (Paul Boehm). In the Women’s event Mellisa Hollingsworth finished with the bronze medal.
The Canadian Skeleton team aims to sweep the men’s podium and win multiple medals in the women’s event at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
  • duffgibson
    @Coach_Reed Very kind of you Coach Reed. Saw your Ted talk and very happy to connect with someone who so clearly un… https://t.co/OfvDaWFeIV
  • BobCanSkel
  • goldrush781
    @JeffHalderman I wish... $$$ 80cc is still way too big for these two anyway.