When most individuals image bobsled from the Winter Olympics or from the movie “Cool Runnings,” they normally see 4 folks, or at the least two, vigorously pushing a sled after which leaping in earlier than racing down an icy course.
However in monobob, an occasion making its Olympic debut on the 2022 Beijing Winter Video games, one sledder does all of it: push, leap and drive. And at this 12 months’s Video games, each one of many rivals might be a lady.
Males, in fact, have been zipping down the bobsled monitor on the Olympics since 1924, first in four-man sleds and, since 1932, in two-man groups as effectively. It took till 2002 for girls to get a two-person occasion, and ever since athletes and their supporters have been campaigning for a second.
However moderately than including the four-person sled as a medal occasion for girls, the Worldwide Olympic Committee has chosen monobob as a substitute. (Males will proceed to race in solely two- and four-person sleds.)
The occasion is one in every of seven additions to the Olympics program for 2022, and the one one of many group that might be contested solely by girls.
Additionally being added are freestyle snowboarding large air leaping occasions for women and men (large air was already on this system for snowboarders) and a handful of mixed-gender classifications: a snowboard cross relay, a short-track speedskating relay, and staff occasions in ski leaping and freestyle snowboarding aerials.
Monobob, nevertheless, could get probably the most consideration. The occasion was interesting to the I.O.C. in some ways, however significantly due to its aggressive stability. The price of entry for the smaller sleds — a monobob may cost about $15,000, whereas a two-person is extra like $70,000 — and the necessity for less than a single driver has democratized outcomes: Brazil and Jamaica gained medals finally season’s World Cup, for instance, and a Cambodian recorded a top-10 end.
As well as, all monobob sleds will come from the identical producer, equalizing partly the technological benefits that rich nations have lengthy loved. In all of the years of bobsled on the Video games, solely Germany, Switzerland, the US, Canada and Italy have gained multiple gold medal.
Elana Meyers Taylor, a veteran American driver, has two silvers and a bronze at three Olympics in two-person bobsled. Now she is hoping so as to add a solo medal to her trophy case. Whereas no American is but absolutely certified for the staff, Meyers Taylor is in a robust place to return to the Video games within the new occasion.
The U.S. additionally has a robust contender in Kaillie Humphries, the gold medalist for Canada on the final two Olympics, and the reigning world champion in monobob and two-woman. She grew to become a U.S. citizen this week.
Drivers usually study in a monobob, which can be utilized as a growth sled, however Meyers Taylor had by no means pushed one till final January.
“There’s a steep learning curve,” she mentioned. “They can skid out, they just don’t have the weight, the speed. They don’t glue to the curb the way a two-man does. They’re a ton more skittish.”
The monobobs full a bobsled course roughly two seconds slower than a two-person bob. “The less weight you have, the slower you’re going to go,” Meyers Taylor mentioned.
Whereas each staff has a sled from the identical producer, they don’t seem to be similar. The aerodynamics have to remain the identical, however groups could make small modifications to achieve an edge. “It’s how you repair them, how you set up the bob,” Meyers Taylor mentioned.
Meyers Taylor and different worldwide sledders lately spent three weeks testing the Beijing monitor that may host the Olympics. There have been solely two crashes in that point, Meyers Taylor mentioned.
“But the course is challenging to be fast on,” she mentioned. “It’s a very tricky track. On the first two curves you can lose a lot of time.”
Regardless of being a possible medal contender in each girls’s occasions, Meyers Taylor mentioned she had blended emotions about monobob’s addition. Requested her favourite occasion, she replied with certainty: “Four-man. I have a huge preference for four-man.”
“We were fighting for four-man,” Meyers Taylor mentioned. “Part of the draw of bobsled is the team aspect of it.”
New Olympic occasions on the 2022 Beijing Video games
Bobsled: Girls’s monobob
Freestyle snowboarding: Blended staff aerials
Freestyle snowboarding: Males’s large air
Freestyle snowboarding: Girls’s large air
Quick-track speedskating: Blended staff relay
Ski leaping: Blended staff occasion
Snowboarding: Blended staff snowboard cross