Vintage Photo of a Late 1940s Bobsleigh in Lake Placid, New York

The 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi are nearly upon us, so let’s do some winter sports. This outstanding vintage photo is not actually from the Olympics, but it’s close enough. According to the auction I snagged it from, this was taken in Lake Placid in 1949.

If that’s true, then this image was shot at the 1949 FIBT World Championships in Lake Placid. The FIBT (aka IBSF) is the organization that oversees bobsledding and skeleton. The bobsleigh shown does display the Olympic rings and the 1948 date, so it’s likely that this was also used in the prior year’s Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

1949 FIBT World Championships in Lake Placid

(For a full-size version click here.)

Two things that stand out to me immediately are the leather helmets that resemble nothing so much as repurposed football helmets of the era, and the decidedly rickety, beat-up looking bobsled. Because the full sled wasn’t captured in the shot I can’t tell if this is for a 2-man or 4-man crew.

Unfortunately I have no way of knowing who the men in the sled are. Not that may teams competed in Lake Placid in ’49 but there are no marks to give away the identity of this crew. The Swiss flag stamp could very well be because, as I mentioned above, this banged up contraption competed in St. Moritz the year before.

In any case, I always love looking at color images from the 1940s and earlier and this is a beauty.