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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Is there a scientific reason why there are no 325 lb.-525 lb. male bobsledders?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26811points) June 16th, 2014

I could cite the low hanging fruit reason why, but I entertain there might be something less obvious as to why there are no bobsledders 325 lb. and up. I would think their added weight would be a plus to the sled, gravity and all. I have seen some ”beefy” bobsledders but none tipping the scales near 325 ib. or more that I know of. Other than not having the desire to hurl down an ice chute at 70 mph is there any scientific reason at all that would preclude a man that larger from being on a bobsled team and moreover, being an asset to the sled?

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21 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

No one though about it…. Go ahead and ask one of the women from my 600 pound story.

Seek's avatar

Traction is a bad thing when you’re going for speed.

filmfann's avatar

Bobsledding isn’t going straight down. You need to navigate a lot of turns, which would be nearly impossible with that much beef in the sled.

funkdaddy's avatar

Bobsledders are sprinters. They have to generate speed quickly, then get in and make themselves as small as possible.

There are no world-class 325+ pound sprinters that I’ve seen, but if there were, they would need to be better by a measure that would offset their ability to get as small as possible.

kritiper's avatar

They can’t fit in the sled. Too wide a sled and your air resistance increases to a detrimental point. But it isn’t how much the sled weighs that makes it go fast, it’s the slipperiness of the runners and the trueness of it’s being steered that makes it fast.

rojo's avatar


zenvelo's avatar

For the same reason there aren’t any 400 lb lugers.Weight does not mean more speed on a course like that.

jerv's avatar

Acceleration due to gravity is unaffected by weight/mass; we all get pulled down at 32 ft/sec^2.

More weight will lead to more drag on the runners though, and will likely add aerodynamic drag due to size.

ucme's avatar

I’m sure there must be a fat man named Bob Sledder somewhere in the world.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Let’s use physics to see if we can predict the benefit of the higher mass.

More mass increases the potential enengy linearly. Pe= m * h so double the mass and you have double the potetial energy to shoot the sled down the hill.

Friction goes up linearly with mass, F = u * N so the friction goes up linearly with mass.

Wind resistance goes up the cross section of the body. Assuming the heavy body is scaled the same as the lighter body, double the mass and the cross section goes up as the ⅔ root of mass. A slight advantage.

Kinetic energy goes up with the square of the velocity Ke=0.5 mV^2 . Double the potential energy and put it all into kinetic and the velocity will only go up sqrt(2) times or 1.4. Not enough gain for the price of increased friction.
Factor all the variables together and the result is… This is the freaking Olympics! If they could make the sled go 0.001 sec faster by greasing the skids with fresh baby blood, they would do it. We don’t see sleds stuffed with elephants. Heavier must not be better.

GloPro's avatar

Bobsledding is a sport. Big fat men don’t tend to excel in sports. Sumo, maybe, but not many others.

cazzie's avatar

@LuckyGuy wins the thread. Because SCIENCE! and, what everyone is forgetting, is this a sport and it has rules. YES, the weight of the sled empty and full is regulated. And YES, lighter teams get to add balast!

(you’re welcome, from the land of the Winter Olympics, Norway)

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^ And YES, lighter teams get to add balast!
Which means they add weight, so if they are light in the ass and have to add weight, the weight must help to some degree, and if they limit weight, then they must believe if the sled has that much “beef” in it, gravity might make up for drag.

cazzie's avatar

Of COURSE the weight helps. basic physics. but there are limits set because it is a sport. There are rules.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^ Sports rules are not scientific.

cazzie's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central yes they are. They are the science of risk assessment but mostly statistics. If you don’t understand numbers, you won’t understand.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^ yes they are.
How, because a committee says there has to be limits because a sled 160 lb heavier will be pulled down the ice chute quicker giving it an unfair advantage over some other sled whose riders are under 775 lb total poundage? That sounds more like trying to regulate fairness than scientific.

cazzie's avatar

Like I said. If you don’t understand numbers, you won’t get it.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Try me, I am sure one as bright as you can put it in a nutshell easy enough to follow.

cazzie's avatar

Sorry, I’m not here to give you a course on statistics and physics. Can I suggest your local University extension. Also, the very fact that it IS a sport has everything to do with regulating the fairness. It’s a SPORT. It needs RULES. If you want to go for a Guinness World record, then… by all means, load up the sled. But the variables need to be controlled in order to present the event as a ‘competitive’ sport. (I can’t believe I’m defending sport… but it is about stats and science.) In basket ball or soccer, why not just box out the best players and leave them bleeding on the sidelines to your team to win? there needs to be rules.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Sorry, I’m not here to give you a course on statistics and physics.
If you don’t really know, just say so. How hard can it be to say rules aside, a heavier sled is no advantage because blank, blank, or blank. And why universal bobsledding has it wrong limiting weight as to try to keep everything close to equal. If it is about sports, you always try to have an advantage, they don’t regulate every hitter in baseball to having the same batting ability to keep one team from unfairly having players that can hit more dingers over the center field fence than the other.

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