Tobogganing as a racing sport
However, it still took many years until tobogganing became a racing sport. The beginnings are to be found in Switzerland, where the first international toboggan race took place in 1883. Only Swiss toboggans were admitted – the most famous being the “Davos Toboggan”.
In Austria, Tyrol and Styria were the pioneer regions with regard to toboggan sport. In Absam and Hall, enthusiastic tobogganing activity dates back to the 1880ies. In 1890, the first tobogganing competition with the miner Johann Laimgruber from Absam took place in Halltal. His “Böckln” (the toboggan’s name in his dialect) had skids made of naturally bended wood with tracks and seat belts.
Dr. Adolf Rziha from Graz was a pioneer of toboggan sport and originator of the Styrian tobogganing style. The so called “Leobener Stahlrodel” (“Steel toboggan from Leoben”) was successful on an international level at the beginning of the 20th century. The Tyroleans used toboggans made of wood, which were continuously developed further.
In 1910, the so called “Stockrodeln” (“tobogganing using a cane for better guidance”) was forbidden on the streets of Vill and Halltal, because the cane of a length of 2 metres was too dangerous. The next important step of development was taken during the Austrian Championship in 1911 – notably by Hans Gfäller and Karl Hagen from Oberaudorf. Thanks to their little toboggans made of wood they outperformed against the heavy Styrian and Bohemian toboggans made of steel, because the inclined position of their foothold only touched the piste with the inner edge of the tracks. For that reason, they were easily guidable and easier to keep in track.
Martin Tietze from Brückenberg/Sudeten who was several times European Champion (1934, 1935, 1937 and 1938) then revolutionized the tobogganing technique. In 1941, he came to the German Tobogganing Championship to Igls and brought along his new toboggan – characterized by the low construction, his manoeuvrability and optimal steerability thanks to the inclined and movably positioned wooden skids.
Following the ideal example of this “Tietze-Toboggan”, the Tyrolean toboggan manufacturers Johann Isser, Rupert and Johann Gasser further developed the toboggan technique.
During the European Championship in Igls in 1951, the movable Tietze and Gasser toboggans performed significantly better than the inflexible Davos and Holmenkollen toboggans – with canes of up to 5 metres for guidance – and also better than the toboggans from Sterzing. All recent racing toboggans are further developments of this type of toboggan.