|The Cresta Run. Photo: Christophe95 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons|
This history is reflected in the novel of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963). In chapter 11 ('Death for Breakfast'), while at Piz Gloria, Bond is woken by a scream of a SPECTRE agent, Bertil, who had been pushed down the bob-run in punishment for forcing himself on Sarah, one of the ‘patients’ of Blofeld’s clinic.
Bond considers the scene of Bertil’s uncontrolled descent along the icy track. Bond had himself experienced something of the terror of the bob-run, having once tried the Cresta Run from ‘top’. Even helmeted and padded up, the run had been for Bond ‘sixty seconds of naked fear’.
Later, Bond sees for himself the scene of death at the Gloria Express bob-run. A map of the course points out the curves and the hazards, which Bond notes are labelled in English, among them Dead Man’s Leap, Whizz-Bang Straight, and Hell’s Delight, ‘in deference to the English traditions at the sport’. At the book’s thrilling climax, Bond would take a skeleton down the Gloria Express in pursuit of Blofeld.
The references to the skeleton in the novel are minor, but they nevertheless fit with the development of the sport. They also place an element of Bond’s background in the context of the English ‘madcap aristocrats’ and adventurers, or perhaps ‘the British military’, which Matt Dickinson notes was largely responsible for keeping the sport going after it ceased to be an Olympic event.