“Skeleton” is an event that’s very similar to single-person luge. In Skeleton, however, the athletes (called “sliders“) ride with their heads at the front of their sleds and have a running start, like the beginning of a bobsled race. While these two factors make skeleton look like an extremely dangerous form of sled racing, the top speeds tend to be slower than in luge and many riders consider it the safest of the three events.
The US skeleton team came in third during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. This is incredibly controversial because, in the words of Yahoo Sports’ columnist Dan Wetzel, “the whole thing was fake” and “everything in Sochi was crooked”.
At the moment, the US Olympic Committee has announced that they will support the decisions made by their athletes, but “does not, and will not, support blanket boycotts of any events”. Kyle Tress, an American skeleton racer, told The New York Times:
“This has been passed down the line from the very highest level of sport, and now it’s fallen into the lap of athletes. There’s tremendous support to skip this event, and I think it’s the right decision.”
Katie Uhlaender, another American skeleton racer, agreed:
“The fact that nothing has been done about the Sochi scandal and the fact that we’re still going to race there — it doesn’t make us feel secure, or that they’re taking the situation seriously.”
The Russian doping controversy has been on-going for over a year now. It’s now widely accepted that the Russian Olympic team and it’s affiliates (possibly including the Federal Security Service, official successor to the KGB) provided athletes with “steroid cocktails”, tampered with test samples, and intimidated whistleblowers in order to skirt regulations and gain an edge in international competition.
“I’m really, really keen to move forward. We need to have Russia compliant… People have been saying to us that non-serious compliance needs non-serious sanctions – and that serious non-compliance needs serious sanctions… There is much work to be done.”