In 2002, skeleton returned to the Olympic program for the first time since 1948. There are two events, men’s and women’s. Men’s skeleton was contested in 1928 and 1948, both times the Winter Games were held in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Women’s skeleton is being contested for the fifth time (2002 was the first). In both events the competitors speed down the course while lying face first on a one-person sled.
Both Olympic skeleton events consist of four runs timed electronically to the 1/100th of a second. In Salt Lake and Torino, only two runs were contested. The four runs will be contested on consecutive days (two runs each day). The final standings will be determined by the total time over the four runs; the winner is the competitor with the lowest aggregate time. If athletes complete the competition in a tie, they are awarded the same place.
In order of their IBSF ranking, the 10 best-placed athletes choose start numbers 6 to 15 in the men’s event and 4 to 13 in the women’s event. For men, the first five starting numbers will be drawn from the last seven ranked athletes in the field. For women, the first three starting numbers will be drawn from the last five ranked athletes in the field. The remaining athletes start in order of their IBSF ranking.
The first heat begins with the athlete with the lowest number and continues in order until all competitors have gone.
The second heat’s starting order is based off the results in the first heat. It begins from 20th-ranked competitor to the first, and then continues with the 21st to the last.
The third heat is based off the combined rankings from the first two heats. It begins with the top-ranked competitor and runs until the last-ranked competitor. Those ranked 21st and lower after the third heat are not eligible to advance to the next heat.
The fourth and final heat starts with the 20th-ranked competitor and goes until the competitor ranked first.
The start is authorized by an audio and visual signal, and from that point, the athlete has 30 seconds to start the run. The competitor may accelerate the sled by pushing it; any other help during the starting procedure is prohibited.
The Race/The Finish
During the race only the prone position (lying on the stomach) is allowed. The athlete may leave the sled in order to push or move it, but he or she must pass the finish line on the sled for the run to count.
A National Olympic Committee (NOC) may qualify up to three athletes in both the men’s and women’s competitions. An NOC has the right to choose which athletes it enters.
In the men’s competition, a maximum of three NOCs may enter three athletes. Six nations may enter two athletes, and five nations may enter one athlete. In the women’s competition, only two countries may enter three athletes. Four NOCs are eligible to enter two and two NOCs can enter one athlete.
One gold, one silver and one bronze medal will be awarded to the top three finishers, respectively. Diplomas will be awarded to the members of the first- through eighth-place teams.