Although sledding on snow or ice had long been popular in many northern countries, the origins of bobsleigh as a modern sport are relatively recent. Its foundation began when hotelier Caspar Badrutt convinced some English regulars to remain through the entire winter at his hotel in the mineral spa town of St. Moritz, Switzerland. In the early 1870s some adventurous English guests began adapting boys' delivery sleds for recreational purposes. However, they soon began colliding with pedestrians in the icy lanes, alleyways and roads of St Moritz. Guests soon began to invent "steering means" for the sleds. This led to the development of the bobsleigh.
Local sentiments varied about these informal competitions but eventually complaints grew so vociferous that Badrutt was forced to take action. Local sentiments decided to build a basic natural ice run for his guests near the town. He opened the world's first natural ice half-pipe track in the late 1870s. Bobsleigh formal competitions started down the natural ice Cresta Run in 1884. The first club formed in 1897, and the first purpose-built track solely for bobsleds opened in 1902 outside St Moritz.
The Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing (now the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (FIBT)) was founded in 1923. Men's four-man bobsleigh appeared in the first ever Winter Olympic Games in 1924, and the men's two-man bobsleigh event was added in 1932. Since 1931 both two-person and four-person bobsleigh world championship competitions have been held yearly, except during World War II. Though women have participated in bobsledding since the sport’s creation, international competition for women did not begin until the 1990s. Women's two-woman bobsleigh made its Olympic debut at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.