While ice skating has seen its fair share of sprained ankles and broken limbs, when it comes to death-defying winter sports, it's hard to compete with skeleton. In the Olympic sliding sport, riders take a running start and launch themselves face-first down an icy downhill track on a sled only an inch off the ground. Great Big Story followed two-time Olympic skeleton slider John Daly on one of his runs and, make no bones about it, this is not a sport for the faint-of-heart.
Elite skeleton sliders like Daly can regularly achieve speeds of 90 miles per hour during a run, experiencing forces of up to 5 Gs over the course of a race. This would be pretty heart-pounding no matter the sport, but for skeleton athletes, that kind of speed and force seems particularly harrowing. A skeleton slider's head hangs over the top of the sled, and that extra force makes their head harder to hold up. According to the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association, athletes slide down the course with their chins mere centimeters from the ice. Going around particularly high-speed corners, they'll often scrape the icy surface of the course with their chins—which in turn obscures their ability to see what's in front of them, forcing them to steer by feel until they can lift up their head again.
"If you start to get stiff, if you start to get scared, it's not going to work—the sled's going to break loose on you and you are going to crash," Daly warns in the video. "You have to embrace the speed." Sounds simple, right?
Think you could handle it? Take a run with Daly in the video below.
[h/t Great Big Story]