Rita is my sled! The sport of skeleton is not as many describe it as a slider jumping on a ‘tea tray’ and sliding down a hill – that ‘tea tray’ costs several thousands of pounds and is very sophisticated.
The sled has to withstand a great deal of crashing about and being mistreated as well as keeping the driver safe. Imagine the damage that would be caused if you hit a solid wall at 80mph in your car – that is what a sled has to survive without being damaged. Rita weighs about 35kg (5 stones) and has a flexible frame originally resembling a skeleton and is where the name first came from. The bottom of the sled is made of a tough composite material. It runs on two engineered and highly polished runners. The top is a thin layer of foam which acts as padding for the slider. Handles, known as the saddle, are fixed to the top of the sled. The runners are interchangeable as is the ‘bow’ of the runner depending on several parameters mainly the condition and temperature of the ice, yes ice is not just at zero degrees!
Two other things – there are no seat belts and no brakes!