Hi Reddit,

I'm a skeleton racer. I chuck myself down a twisted chute of ice on a glorified cafeteria tray at over 80mph, head first. After yesterday's front page image, and some requests, and having already answered a lot of questions on r/olympics about the sport of skeleton (and bobsled), here's an AMA. Proof (Yes, that's a link to Google+)

I've competed internationally in both skeleton & bobsled, with more experience in skeleton but my best finishes being two 4th places in NorAm 4-man bobsled races as a brakeman.

I also do graphic designs for skeleton sleds: a german sled and my sled

POV Skeleton video of me sliding head first at 125km/h

Another video of me by a pro-film crew

Video from inside the bobsled as a brakeman

And since skeleton isn't really a full time job, I also take photos for money, and have other people take photos of me for money. And I've also started a character driven, comedy/self help youtube channel: Cynical Life Tips

Happy to answer your questions about skeleton (or bobsled, or the other stuff) and hopefully make your Olympic viewing experience more informed and enjoyable.

Edit: I have to run an errand, but guess what? I've been a contributing redditor for nearly 3 years, and I hate having AMA's abandoned prematurely. So I'll be back to respond to every question I see.

Edit 2: And... I'm back for the afternoon until practice in ~5 hours.

Comments: 264 • Responses: 91  • Date: 

manchegan55 karma

How clenched is that b-hole during a run?

nathancrumpton26 karma

Ha! Incidentally, not at all. Part of the key to sliding fast is relaxing as much as possible, and just "melting into the sled." The goal is to be loose and relaxed. Tensed muscles upset the sled and scrub speed.

nzieser2733 karma

Scariest moment doing your sport?

nathancrumpton60 karma

Taking my first run from the top of Whistler, the 2010 Olympic track which claimed the life of luger Nodar Kumaritashvili. It's not just the fastest track in the world (top speed of just over 90mph during the Olympics), but extremely technical too. Luckily the run went really well, and I became much more relaxed after that.

whenijusthavetopost9 karma

I heard on the news that many racers found that track to be too dangerous, is this how many racers feel or is it an acceptable risk in a high-speed sport?

nathancrumpton8 karma

For lugers, yes - they found it too risky. I don't think they use the top dock for luge starts anymore; they all go from a lower start now.

Bob & skeleton, we still go from the top, and most experienced sliders are okay with it.

TweetSaidTheCat26 karma

How did you get into competitive skeleton? Did you just decide to go try it one day and loved it?

nathancrumpton7 karma

A combination of being an innate thrill seeker, and having the athletic chops to do it. Before I was sliding, I was doing a lot of big mountain snowboarding and skiing, which goes along with the winter-sport adrenaline rush. And prior to that I was an NCAA D1 track & field athlete, which is the type of athlete skeleton & bobsled recruit, since you need speed and power to push the sled to maximum speed.

TweetSaidTheCat3 karma

Ahh okay, so I assume you were approached by a recruiter and asked to come give it a try? I'm just finishing up my university athletic career in Canada and skeleton has always looked like a lot of fun to me.

nathancrumpton2 karma

It was a mix: I contacted a coach and gave my athletic resume... and after performing well on the combine test, I was invited to the development team.

Canada has a good team! Some of the nicest people on tour too.

thepretender_923 karma

Have you ever sustained any serious injuries in the sport?

nathancrumpton33 karma

Yes, a concussion on my first day going from the top of the Lake Placid track (where I started the sport). I was unable to slide for 2 weeks. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the most common serious injury in the sport. There's also an emerging debate about the long term effects of sliding, even if you don't hit your head. The long term effects on one's head when subjected to 4 & 5 g's of force for years on end are unknown, but some of the anecdotes from veterans and retired sliders are disconcerting.

Hvse12 karma

As someone who has never excelled at any sport I have much admiration for those with talent and drive. However, I would personally find it difficult to knowingly put myself at a higher risk of cognitive disabilities in late mid life unless being payed very handsomely. Like Floyd Mayweather type of money.

How do you come to terms with the potential for side effects in your 40-50s for something that is not paying the bills?

I hope this comment doesn't come across as condescending or rude. I am genuinely curious as to the way you view the risks.

nathancrumpton26 karma

This is a great question. I'll answer in full soon. I'm meeting a potential sponsor right now....wish me luck. Edit: I'm back. This requires a multi-part answer: 1) The long term effects are still unclear from regular sliding, and most people seem to be fine. It's not quite like boxing where you're being repeatedly bludgeoned and your head goes through really jarring movements. (Bobsled is kind of like that though...watch the video at the top. I'd be happy to never take a bobsled ride again.) Most of skeleton sliding is really smooth, and g-forces are supposed to be limited to a max of 5gs for a period of 3 seconds, I believe. IE - track designers do take this aspect into account. 2) That being said, it's mostly a "big hit" that worries me. A teammate - Katie Uhlaender, the 2012 World Champion and 2 time Olympian - had a bad concussion earlier this season in training. She is still sliding competitively, but without the world-leading results she expects. Watching her go through the process is definitely disconcerting. 3) Ultimately it's a sport that I really enjoy, and I feel it enriches my life more than it detracts from it. If and when that flip flops, then it's time to hang up the spikes and maybe find something new. Nonetheless, I'm keeping close tabs on how my head handles things in the long term.

octopencilpus15 karma

What restrictions (if any) on the sport do you think should be lifted?

nathancrumpton26 karma

Oh man, I could think a long time about that one. But the one that comes to mind first is to make the maximum width of the sled a little wider. I have broad shoulders that hang over the edge of my sled, so if I bump a wall hard, my body takes the hit. Scraping walls at over 70mph isn't fun

nixanadoo12 karma

Are your parents and/or significant other supportive?

nathancrumpton9 karma

Yep, most people find it pretty cool & unique. Perhaps some trepidation, but mostly curiosity.

cok666n12 karma

Does beginner skeleton tracks even exist? I always wanted to try that, but I'd prefer not to kill myself if possible.

nathancrumpton5 karma

Well, you go on the same track but you just start lower. In Lake Placid NY, you can pay to take a tourist ride on a skeleton sled from Curve 10 (out of 19). Park City UT, you can take tourist rides from Curve 11 (out of 15). And if you like it, you can take lessons and work your way up to the top of the track.

osoatwork2 karma

I know this is a couple of hours old, but how fast do you get going if you start at curve 11/15 in Park City? Like if I fall off, what can I expect?

I would love to try going down the course, but I am a bigger guy 300lbs+, are you allowed to just take an inner tube or something and slide down?

nathancrumpton2 karma

45mph from curve 11 in Park City is about the speed you'll reach. Although I don't know if you'd fit in the sled, unless you're really tall and that weight is distributed over a lot of height.

What's probably more realistic is doing a bobsled ride, which you can actually do from the top of the track with a professional driver. You'll go faster, and get to see much more of the track.

FishInhaleTheirPee12 karma

have you ever thought something along the lines of: "holy fuck, am i insane to do something like that?"

nathancrumpton19 karma

Not really. When you're around a bunch of other people doing it too, it's just being part of the group. I'm an adrenaline junkie, and before I was sliding I was jumping off 70 ft cliffs on my snowboard

anahuac-a-mole11 karma

What does your typical diet and workout schedule consist of?

nathancrumpton16 karma

I keep a log of everything I eat & all my workouts. Normally I'll cook a huge batch of pasta or rice with chicken, and eat that for a few days. Here was the last batch of pasta I cooked:

2lbs ziti with iodized salt. Udo's oil blend. 1.5 onions, head of garlic, broccoli crowns, 4 tomatoes, 3 avocados, 3lbs of chicken breast, classico vodka sauce, dried basil leaves, cracked pepper.

Workouts: 5 to 6 days a week, and they focus on developing quick twitch muscle fibers and rate of force (power) improvements. Mostly they consist of sprints, plyometrics, and weight lifting. Very similar to what I did as a D1 NCAA jumper/short sprinter, with a bit more weight lifting emphasis.

fango311 karma


nathancrumpton9 karma

Well, certainly not for the money. Like most Olympic sports, it's tough going financially unless you're at the very, very top of the sport. Ultimately it was because I missed competitive athletics (I was a track & field athlete in college), and I fell in love with winter sports as a skier & snowboarder. Skeleton was a logical way to combine winter sport passion with the skills I had from track & field (namely the speed & explosiveness to push the sled).

im_always_fapping10 karma


nathancrumpton9 karma

Haha, not stupid at all. Luge (feet first) actually has a higher center of gravity and is arguably more dangerous because of that. As for bobsled, I'm simply not big enough to compete at a world class level: those guys average 6'2 220lbs at the World Cup level. I'm 6' 175lbs...much better suited for skeleton.

im_always_fapping6 karma


fearthelamias7 karma

Easier to flip on a high speed turn

nathancrumpton3 karma


KOALAMANirl1 karma

How come when doing bobsled you don't wear some sort of neck brace to try and minimize your head from banging everywhere lol?

nathancrumpton2 karma

Haha, good question. I don't know. I think that would be tough to design though; something that still gives you mobility for the push (where there's often a lot of head movement to counterbalance your running, since you can't counterbalance with your arms), but also stabilize you during the ride.

NuclearxSniper10 karma

What is the funniest thing ever to happen to you before/after sledding?

nathancrumpton17 karma

Lemme think about that one and get back to you... Edit: Well, not really during sliding, but most people seem to like the thermometer I donated to the Utah Olympic Park

IHideInCaves9 karma


nathancrumpton9 karma

Hopefully through - and at - the 2018 Olympics. Depends very heavily on health and finances.

skwamus7 karma

My dad and I were talking about it the other day, how does one decide to get into bobsled, luge, skeleton? How many tracks could there possibly be in the U.S.? Once located, how does a random person get access to use to the track? Surely they're all owned by the U.S.A. Olympic Committee?

nathancrumpton5 karma

Most bob&skelly have track & field or other athletic backgrounds, since you need a fast start. Luge tends to start really young (6yo) since it has a much longer learning curve.

2 tracks in the US: Park City (owned privately) and Lake Placid (operated by the state of NY). If you contact them, you can take lessons starting from 1/2 way up the track, and see if you like it from there.

Links: http://utaholympiclegacy.com/

and http://www.orda.org/corporate/

TeamBlade7 karma

How do you fit your giant brass balls in the spandex suit?

nathancrumpton23 karma

Luckily skeleton is a winter sport, and things tend to contract in the cold.

haggis427 karma

I help skelly and bob and luge broadcast live online for events on teamUSA, recognized your name!

nathancrumpton3 karma

Haha, nice!

jippernog7 karma

Not trying to be condescending at ALL, genuinely curious.. what makes people skilled at this? I mean don't you just have to hold on? I don't understand how one can be a professional at simply sliding down a hill. Please, change my mind!

nathancrumpton5 karma

No, great question. The biggest component is the push start at the beginning. IE - how fast can you push a 75 pound steel sled on ice. At the 2010 Olympics, each hundredth of a second faster at the top correlated to 2.5 hundredths of a second faster at the finish line.

After you're on your sled, it's much more than just sitting there and hanging on - it's about making lightning quick steers and corrections while you're sliding to make the sled take the fastest line as possible. There are pressures ("g-forces") that build in the turns, and it's about manipulating those pressures to squeeze as much speed out as possible. That process takes years of development and practice...some people get it, and others don't, it's hard to predict.

Of course, at the Olympic level, everyone is a skilled and experienced driver, so it's often that extra athleticism that separates you from the pack. Example: Last year's world championships, the man with the fastest start ended up finishing 1st, and the 2nd fastest start placed 2nd. It's not always like that, but the fast start certainly helps.

JakobGudik7 karma

Do you like skiing? Where are your favorite locations?

nathancrumpton6 karma

Oh man, yes. Favorite mountain: Jackson Hole. Second favorite, Whistler-Blackcomb. Third: Vail.

johndavismit5 karma

How old were you when you started Skeleton?

nathancrumpton3 karma

25 actually, after college and a couple years ski bumming. While it's a sport that helps to start early, it's not necessary. The US has produced sliders who started at 29 and 30 who went on to win World Cup titles & world championship medals.

icecreamvanfuloblood2 karma

25 actually,

Are most competitive skeleton competitiors(skeletoners?Bonemen? What do you guys call yourselves?) around your age? What age do you peak at?

nathancrumpton2 karma

Skeleton sliders.... skeletors... although I kinda like "bonemen."

Most tend to peak late 20's or early 30's. However, there is something to be said for experience. Kristan Bromley is 41, and will be competing in his 4th Olympics I believe.

Wulph5 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! I have a few questions, I know you answered them already in PM but for everyone else's benefit I thought I would ask here anyway;

  1. How did you first get started in the sport?

  2. What are some of the attributes required for a Skeleton athlete?

  3. Any recommendations for people who are looking at getting into the sport?

nathancrumpton2 karma

Hey Wulph, sure: 1. See above about being a winter athlete & ex-track athlete. After that, I saw the sport at the Winter Olympics and thought that I just had to try it, so I searched online, contacted the coach, and took it from there!

  1. Ideally: dense for mass, but aerodynamic (ie: tall & skinny generally, but many different body types have had success), the ability to push a 75 pound/34 kilo sled very quickly over ~35m, and then the ability to stay calm and execute steers under high speeds and pressures.

3.Contact your local sliding center! There are 2 tracks in Canada, 2 in USA, and a lot in Europe. Most have programs to get athletes started with sliding, and you can see if you enjoy it.

Reymont5 karma

Awesome! I'm signed up for my first skeleton run at Cresta in St. Moritz the first week of February. Any advice for a first-timer?

I wasn't sure what I could do to prepare or practice. Only had a month's notice, so I'm hitting the gym, taking yoga classes to get a bit more flexible, and hitting an indoor BMX park once a week, thinking there might be something there about learning to get a smooth flow over the jumps.

nathancrumpton3 karma

I dream of sliding St. Moritz! Birthplace of bobsled & skeleton.

Biggest thing to tell yourself before you slide is to relax - don't be twitching or moving on the sled, since that will upset it and it could send you into a wall.

Biking can be a good cross training tool too. The aussi slider John Farrow and I used downhill biking as cross training in the off season: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1awNbzbGoY&feature=c4-overview&list=UUlR9nVdSUxUhVEULDjg2iYA

Reymont4 karma

Hey, great! Thanks for the advice - I'll keep up the biking, for sure.

And I know that the Cresta is members-only, but if you still want to go next year, I'm sure I can get you an invitation. Just hit me up via Reddit!

nathancrumpton3 karma

Fantastic - I'll be sure to keep that in mind for when I get to St. Moritz!

Blastmitchy884 karma

Have you suffered any serious injuries during your career?

nathancrumpton5 karma

See above answer to u/thepretender_9. Other than that though, mostly just scrapes and bruises.

OneAct4 karma

What do you actually do while riding? It seems like you're going so fast that all you'd do is hang on for dear life.

nathancrumpton3 karma

You actually have to have a laser focus on the track to try and hit the lines that will carry as much speed down the track as possible. After a while, the track slows down, and you can concentrate on getting the right entries, exits, and manipulating the pressures to go as fast as possible. It definitely takes a lot of practice.

skidd-ACDC4 karma

Will you be participating in the upcoming Olympics in Russia as a skeleton racer?

nathancrumpton6 karma

I wish! I'm not at that level yet, and I'll have to watch my teammates on TV. I had a pretty disastrous team trials this year. While I wasn't a favorite to make the team, I thought I'd be able to at least give some other guys a run for their money. I did have some of the fastest start times of anyone at trials, but unfortunately I had some serious equipment issues, and was out of the running pretty early.

calsutmoran4 karma

What adrenaline sports do you do for fun?

nathancrumpton4 karma

Skiing & boarding in the winter... mountain biking & longboarding in the summer. I like surfing too, but I suck at it...

Scum_Of-The_Earth4 karma

What do you use to support your massive balls?

nathancrumpton5 karma

Multiple layers of spandex.

snorlz3 karma

As someone who doesnt know anything about the sport, can you explain to me what is sporty about it? Aside from the initial push, it doesnt really seem to take a lot of athletic ability. Controlling the sled is a skill, but not one I would necessarily call athletic

chaz3453 karma

Not the OP, nor a skeleton racer, but the OP previously mentioned forces in the 4 to 5 G range. Holding your head up off the ice and maintaining any sort of control under those conditions definitely takes athletic ability.

nathancrumpton5 karma

Yes, after the push - which is critical - it's a lots of neck strength, and lightning quick reaction ability. You have to make subtle but effective changes while moving at very high rates of speed, and that requires an effective central nervous system that's common to lots of other athletics.

TumorPizza3 karma

What's the difference between skeleton and luge? How do you start doing the skeleton? Are there smaller, less dangerous courses and slower skeletons that one can use to get familiar with the sport? Also, I wish you the best of luck!

nathancrumpton2 karma

Thanks! Well, luge is feet first, and you generally have to start younger since it has a longer learning curve (because the sleds are higher up and less stable). Skeleton has a lower center of gravity, and at the elite level is much more dependent on physical ability (how fast you push the sled).

There aren't different tracks; you can go on the same track, but you just start lower down and work your way to the top over weeks & months. So instead of going 80+ mph, you'll start at around 40mph.

Breuer13 karma

Can you explain how the system works for making the olympics and why USA gets to send an additional man based upon last years season standings?

nathancrumpton3 karma

Each country has its own system, but the US is based on international points earned through racing. Whichever 2 or 3 athletes have the highest number of points by Jan 19th (I think) will get to go.

Sleds are earned by each country based on how many points that country has. So in order for the US team to qualify 3 sleds for the Games, we need as many points as possible, and our #3 slider - Kyle Tress - needs to stay ahead of his Russian, British, etc. competitors who are also vying for that 3rd sled.

TodayIprocrastinated3 karma

Do you aim to compete at international tournaments and/or the winter Olympics? if so how long do you think it would take to reach that level of performance?

nathancrumpton3 karma

International racing, yes, but not at these upcoming winter Olympics. The learning curve often takes 4-9 years to really dial in the skill of squeezing as much speed out of the curves as possible, and I've still got a lot of work to do in that regard.

siim3 karma

Are all sleds one-design or every racer have special made for their weight/height?

Carbon or GRP or something more exotic?

nathancrumpton3 karma

There are tight regulations surrounding sled manufacturing, but it still allows for variance and design changes. The frame has to be made mostly out of steel (which sometimes can get exotic, since there are many different steel alloys), and fit within certain width/length/weight requirements.

The pods/pans/underbelly are made out of fiberglass or carbon fiber generally, and the tops are padded to keep the slider comfortable, so long as they're flat.

TheZbeast3 karma

How would someone without any experience get started in sliding sports?

nathancrumpton2 karma

Go out and try it! Contact the closest track near you (Whistler & Calgary in Canada, Lake Placid & Park City in USA, or many in Europe) and sign up to take a ride! See if you like it, and then you can take lessons.

XJLIftedPNW3 karma

What sort of work out regiment do you have for staying in shape during the off and on season?

nathancrumpton2 karma

Workouts: 5 to 6 days a week, and they focus on developing quick twitch muscle fibers and rate of force (power) improvements. Mostly they consist of sprints, plyometrics, and weight lifting. Very similar to what I did as a D1 NCAA jumper/short sprinter, with a bit more weight lifting emphasis.

Rtoad3 karma

What is considered the perfect body type for a skeleton racer?

nathancrumpton2 karma

If I could choose, I would be 6'3 and 195 lbs. IE - tallish, skinny, but pretty dense with muscle. The mass helps momentum, but you also want to be skinny an aerodynamic.

That being said, various heights and weights ranging from ~150lbs to ~220lbs have been successful.

toenailclipping3 karma


nathancrumpton4 karma

why not?

dtmc3 karma

Is it as dangerous as it seems?

And proudest moment of your life/career?

nathancrumpton4 karma

Not as dangerous I don't think, but I have a skewed perspective of danger. I'm actually more concerned about long term effects of sliding...exposing myself to high speeds & pressures for years on end. We'll see what happens.

Um...career? Dang, nothing sticks out... I need to accomplish more in this sport. I did have the fastest start during one of the runs at team trials this year, which was probably the high point this season.

iammanic3 karma

Are you (and/or your teammates/friends) at all concerned about competing in Russia? ... given the recent terrorist attacks and threats, and all the other negative vibes around the games.

nathancrumpton2 karma

I'm not since I didn't make the Olympic team. I can't speak on behalf of my teammates who will be there, but I think there's a growing concern, but no one I know of will be boycotting due to safety threats.

meadkc3 karma

Have you ever raced a "Christian Pederson"?

nathancrumpton2 karma

nope, can't say I have.

Diquebutt3 karma



nathancrumpton4 karma


NateY3K2 karma

Hello, fellow Nathan!

nathancrumpton1 karma


Viralsun2 karma

Whatis the machine they use to smooth off the runs before you go down them? I imagine it's something like they use on an ice skating ring, but surely that's difficult on a sloped surface.

nathancrumpton1 karma

Track workers with hand scrapers! Imagine a long broom handle with a bladed ice scraping tool on it. It's a very labor intensive process.

vexillologist2 karma

How do you make a living doing skeleton? What is the pay like? Do you have to do jobs on the side?

nathancrumpton2 karma

The pay is really whatever you can wrangle up with sponsors, which really isn't a lot given that the sport has a pretty low visibility most of the time. So yes, I freelance a lot to earn extra money - whatever I can get that makes the most financial sense!

You can read about some of the jobs that my teammates do to make ends meet: http://usathletictrust.org/athlete-advocacy/usat-publications/the-intrinsic-value-of-elite-athletes/

porchguitar2 karma

Did you ever die?

nathancrumpton2 karma

Not that I can recall...

Queen_LaQueefah2 karma

I've always been curious about what type of preparation you do before you go down a new track for the first time. Do you have to study the course and all its turns and everything before you head down for the first time or do you basically say fuck it and you'll figure it out as you go? Also, do you go at full speed the first time you run a track or is there a way to do it at like 50% speed?

nathancrumpton1 karma

Haha, some people go the "fuck it" route, but very few. I watch lots of POV track video til I know all the turns, then I practice laying on my sled an executing the intended turns while watching the video. But nothing replicates it like actually doing it, so there's always a bit of trepidation the first time on a new track.

You can go from lower starting points if you need to, although incidentally sometimes that makes it harder for me since I'm more accustomed to going full speed and manipulating the track with full pressure. (I'm thinking of whistler specifically, where they make you go from a lower start at first. But once I went from the top, it just seemed to make more sense.)

DrFuckingSeuss2 karma

How did you start doing such a unique and dangerous sport?

It seems difficult to get good at such a sport because of the danger in it,

Where/when did your interest in it begin?

nathancrumpton3 karma

As with most of my teammates, I saw it on the Olympics and decided I had to try it out. I was already an adrenaline seeker, and I had the background as a track and field athlete, which helps with the push start.

DrFuckingSeuss1 karma

!!! Thank you for answering,

As with other sports like Diving, so much of the time is spent not actually doing the sport, in your case Racing. How much of time would you say you are actually shooting down a track?

nathancrumpton2 karma

2-3 runs a day, and each run takes about a minute... so really, I'm only on the ice for a couple minutes a day, even though a session can take 2-3 hours. There's also a lot of prep time that goes into making sure you're properly warmed up and all your equipment is in order.

JackSixxx2 karma

Aren't you afraid of cracking your skull open due to a helmet malfunction?

nathancrumpton2 karma

Not as much anymore, but any time I go to a new track and I don't know the way the track handles, I get a little worried about taking a hit.

The UVEX helmets that we use though are $500 and made of carbon & padding, and fit to our heads. Luckily, head on collisions are exceedingly rare, since we're going with the flow of the track most of the time.

need_my_amphetamines2 karma

What is the worst crash you have witnessed?

nathancrumpton2 karma

Curve 10 in Lake Placid; lots of crashes there if people don't enter correctly. They'll drop out of the curve too early and hit the shortwall. I had one teammate - my roommate at the time - break his arm, and have bruises all over his body. Another hit the short wall, bounced across the track to the far wall, and knocked herself unconscious, and slid rag-doll down to curve 12.

beachedwhale22 karma

Have you ever tried luge? Easier or harder than skeleton?

nathancrumpton1 karma

Never tried it, but I imagine it's much harder. Definitely has a longer learning curve. Lots of lugers start at 6 or 7 yo.

PontisPilot2 karma

How does actually become a skeleton racer? Meaning, I can't imagine walking up to a bobsled track (I don't even know where one is in New England) and asking someone to show me how to go.

nathancrumpton1 karma

You're close if you're in NE - Lake Placid is one of only 2 in the US.

Gotta give it a try first to see if you like the sensation - many don't. After that, if you want to do it competitively, you have to pass a combine test (physical fitness test for speed, strength, explosiveness) to try and make it onto the development team.

PontisPilot2 karma

So your saying I can walk up to these courses and ask for a shot?

nathancrumpton1 karma

Essentially. You have to reserve your slot ahead of time, sign a waiver, and pay the rental fee for the sled/ice time... but yes, if you're in good health, you can do that.

coffeefuckyeah2 karma

Are you going to Sochi, either as a competitor or for fun?

nathancrumpton1 karma

Not as a competitor - I wish! - and probably not for fun, since it's so expensive to get there and I need to start saving for a new sled.

froobin2 karma

Have you seen Skeleton Jelly?

nathancrumpton2 karma

Nope; not sure what that is....

nathancrumpton2 karma

lol, bizarre. i had not seen that.

TenaciousBLT2 karma

I am just curious how you would get started in this - I assume you lived close to a place that had a track but beyond that did you meet someone that pulled you into the sport or how did you progress from walking around and then one day flying down an ice track at 120km/h with nothing but some plastic between you and injury.

You have balls of steel and I applaud you for it just always been curious about how someone gets into this sport.

nathancrumpton1 karma

Ha, thank you. Well, lots do get started because they have close access to a track, but the US has athletes who come from all over the country.

Most have an athletic background in another sport, since it takes athleticism to push a sled and react quickly and calmly under pressure.

I was drawn to it by the adrenaline rush too.

LetsGetNice2 karma

How much of a variable is the condition of the track? I would think that previous runs would chop up the track to some degree, and since competition on that level often comes down to tiny fractions of a second, how do they mitigate that? I noticed in that video the track looked fairly lumpy and slushy.

nathancrumpton2 karma

Great question. Ice conditions vary a lot, and can have a big impact on results. Snow too.

A 4-man bobsled can really create gouges in the track, and rough it up a lot. Never fun sliding skeleton after 4 man sleds go down.

In race conditions, speed generally favors the athlete who slides first. So in the 2nd heat, they reverse the order to try and make it more fair.

kangaroooooo2 karma

What could be done, in your opinion, to make the sport less dangerous?

What makes the risks worth the rewards for you?

nathancrumpton2 karma

Track design is the biggest thing. I think most people realized that after the 2010 Olympics, so from here on out, the tracks will be safer (less technical and lower speed). Even now, I believe Whistler is shaving concrete and reshaping the track to try and make it safer.

I get my kicks from adrenaline... that's enough right now, but longer term, we'll see...

Choilicious2 karma

Why are the Latvians so unstoppable.

nathancrumpton2 karma

They've got a lot going for them. It starts with their funding; they're pretty well heeled from what I understand. They also build their own equipment, and they own their own track in Segulda, so they can do unlimited testing there. And their two stud male athletes have been doing the sport for many, many years. I believe Thomas, the older brother, will be in his 4th Olympics in Sochi.

darth_inhaler2 karma

What was your training process like before you started the sport? I imagine just throwing yourself down a hill on a skateboard until you get used to the feeling.

nathancrumpton2 karma

Haha, for me it was lots of skiing & snowboarding. But nothing quite fits the sensation of skeleton... it really is a unique thrill. Kind of like a rollercoaster on ice that you control, and with your face only inches off the ground.

vigridarena2 karma

I was the one that requested the AMA originally yesterday! Thanks for doing it.

I was just wondering what kind of training schedule you go through? What's a normal work out for you?

What has been your favourite track to compete on?

Any favourite racers from other teams?

nathancrumpton1 karma

Haha, yep. You're welcome.

Sliding & working out 5 days a week generally. 2-3 runs a day on the sled. And working out is a mix of sprinting, plyometrics (jumping) and weight lifting (often Olympic lifts and their derivatives). Yesterday's workout took me 2 hours, almost exactly, and was a mix of all that.

Hmm..I really like the Park City track (the one in the skele videos at the top) - it's very smooth, fast, and has a nice flow to it. But Whistler takes the cake for sheer adrenaline rush.

Martins Dukurs from Latvia is always thrilling to watch. He has got the full package: great start, great equipment, great sliding ability. It's stunning to me how fast he can make his sled go (and puzzling for everyone else in the world who try to compete against him!)

Alex Tretiakov aka "The Russian Rocket" has the fastest start times, and it's always exciting seeing him launch his sled at the start.

Those two will probably be the ones battling it out for gold in Sochi.

Unbearabull1 karma

I heard if you don't go head first you're a luger. Can you confirm?

nathancrumpton2 karma

Technically yes...head first = skeletor. Feet first = luger. (Or was that a pun?)

Unbearabull1 karma

Yes.. A terrible pun I've always wanted to make into tshirts and sell to skeleton racers...interested?

nathancrumpton1 karma

Haha, thanks but that wouldn't go over too well with the luging community. All the ones I've met are quite nice, and I definitely respect them as sliders.

hellouncertainty1 karma

What sort of times were you running when doing athletics?

nathancrumpton2 karma

best event to worst: mid-15m triple jumper, 7+m long jumper, high-10s 100m.

CALL_me_GREEN_bean1 karma

Do you know Dominick Castanzo?

nathancrumpton1 karma

can't say that I do.

Mawax1 karma

Hey! I just watched some luge this week end and since it's the same "art" of sport:

What do you control and how?

Do you have time to think to other stuff like what you see on the sides, or are you just too concentrated?

nathancrumpton1 karma

I don't know how to steer a luge sled! I've never tried it, and it's a very different sport. Skeleton is more similar to bobsled in many respects.

Sometimes I can notice people standing on the side of the track watching...I might notice a brightly colored jacket, but most of the time I'm too concentrated on hitting my lines.

Dirtpig1 karma

Why even bother wearing clothes? We can see every nook and cranny anyways, plus it would be more extreme! Also, I have bobsledded before, so I know how crazy you must be.

nathancrumpton1 karma

Gotta stay warm!

spaceboogers1 karma

Mr. Crumpton, on a scale from 1-10 how sick can you krump?

For reference.

nathancrumpton2 karma

That guy has some moves. I'd say 3.14159 out of 10.

jackalopexs201 karma

A skeleton racer? You mean a regular runner, right?

nathancrumpton2 karma

I don't get it...what am I missing?

wanttobeacop1 karma

So how did you get into the sport?

nathancrumpton1 karma

A combination of being an innate thrill seeker, and having the athletic chops to do it. Before I was sliding, I was doing a lot of big mountain snowboarding and skiing, which goes along with the winter-sport adrenaline rush. And prior to that I was an NCAA D1 track & field athlete, which is the type of athlete skeleton & bobsled recruit, since you need speed and power to push the sled to maximum speed.

likea_yeti1 karma

Hello. I've wondered this about a lot of Olympic athletes; Do you have sponsors or a does a team pick you up and pay for your bills and training? How much do you really on your own finances?

nathancrumpton1 karma

It's really tough financially. We have to court sponsors, work lots of part time jobs (I take photos, do some graphic design, model, and whatever else comes my way).

At the very top -world cup level - they get small stipends and their expenses paid for, but they're certainly not getting rich. Most stipends are only $1-2k a month in the US.

It's a shame since there's so much money in the Olympic games, yet athletes often struggle so much (apart from the very few who are multiple medal winners and have lots of sponsors).

More detail in this article I wrote here: http://usathletictrust.org/athlete-advocacy/usat-publications/how-well-are-us-athletes-supported-by-the-usoc-and-11-other-important-olympic-questions/

nathancrumpton1 karma

Also, the last bit, I rely almost entirely off my own finances. I did have support through last season from the non-profit usathletictrust.org, and I had a friend donate some money from her company.

But I have to start saving my pennies for a new sled, which can cost $7-10k. Right now I'm on a 2008 sled, and I think its days are numbered...

evilcleverdog1 karma

What's it like being a skeleton?

nathancrumpton1 karma

awesome! (most of the time)

vox_mechanika1 karma

what would you do for summer training? I see you are into extreme sports.. how 'bout skullboarding??


nathancrumpton1 karma

That looks awesome. A bit like buggy rollin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNVslA7T2q8

In addition to working out, I downhill mountain bike, and enjoy longboarding for fun.

The aussi slider John Farrow and I used downhill biking as cross training in the off season: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1awNbzbGoY&feature=c4-overview&list=UUlR9nVdSUxUhVEULDjg2iYA

mando1111 karma

Have you ever heard of downhill skateboarding (longboard racing) if so, how do you feel about it?

nathancrumpton1 karma

yes, I've often thought of trying that! I've actually linked a number of DH skateboarding videos on my G+ page. Looks awesome! Lot of admiration for those guys.

BuffyTVS1 karma

Why isn't there Skeleton racing in the special Olympics?

nathancrumpton1 karma

I couldn't tell ya. Although I believe there is Paralymic skeleton... they were testing a specially designed sled in Placid a few years ago.

space-cat1 karma

Do you know any of the Australian skeleton racers?

nathancrumpton2 karma

Yep! Their coaches too. Aussies are great.