KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Benjamin Maier put his hands on his hips and swayed back and forth, as if combining twerking and hula hooping.
He wasn't in a club; he was on his way out of Sanki Sliding Center, responding to the following question:
"Why is it called bobsled?"
Maier, an Olympian from Austria, is only 19. He could have been stumped by the query since the sport appeared in the 1880s – a little before his time. But he knew the answer like a historian.
"It's because when the sport started," he said, "they would bob back and forth like this to move the sled."
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Right he is. The bobsled was originally a way to move wealthy vacationers in Switzerland. It was basically a high-end toboggan with steering. Those rigs weren't built by BMW or Ferrari, like today's models. It took a little shifting and swaying. You had to bob to get the sled going.
Racing followed quickly once early passengers got that down, and the sport became a part of the first-ever Winter Olympics in 1924. Now here we are.
So all these years later, do the athletes still bob?
"No," Maier laughed. "We push."
Pushsled? We'll stick with the original name.
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