New events for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games? Start with Monobob

When most people imagine bobsledding in the Winter Olympics or in the movie “Cool Runnings”, they usually see four people, or at least two, vigorously pushing a sled and then jumping before hurtling down an icy course.

But in a monobob, an event making its Olympic debut at the Beijing 2022 Winter Games, one lugger does it all: pushing, jumping and driving. And at this year’s Games, each competitor will be a woman.

Men, of course, have been racing down the bobsleigh track at the Olympics since 1924, first in four-man sleds and, since 1932, also in teams of two. It wasn’t until 2002 that the women got an event in pairs, and since then the athletes and their supporters campaigned for a second.

But rather than adding the four-man sled as a medal event for the women, the International Olympic Committee chose the monobob instead. (Men will continue to run in two- and four-person sleds only.)

The event is one of seven additions to the 2022 Olympics schedule and the only one in the group that will only be contested by women.

There are also freestyle ski jumping events for men and women (big air was already on the program for snowboarders) and a handful of mixed classifications: a snowboard cross relay, a short track speed skating relay and Team events in ski jumps and freestyle ski jumps.

Monobob, however, can get the most attention. The event attracted the IOC in many ways, but above all because of its competitive balance. The cost of entry for the smaller sleds – a monobob can cost around $ 15,000, while a two-person is more like $ 70,000 – and the need for a single driver has democratized the results: Brazil and Jamaica won medals at last season’s World Cup, for example, and a Cambodian recorded a top 10.

In addition, all monobob sleds will come from the same manufacturer, in part equalizing the technological advantages that rich countries have long enjoyed. In all the years of bobsleigh at the Games, only Germany, Switzerland, the United States, Canada and Italy have won more than one gold medal.

Elana Meyers Taylor, a seasoned American pilot, has won two silver medals and one bronze at three Olympics in two-man bobsleigh. Now she’s hoping to add a solo medal to her trophy case. While no American has yet fully qualified for the team, Meyers Taylor is well positioned to return to the Games in the new event.

The United States also has a strong contender in Kaillie Humphries, gold medalist for Canada at the last two Olympics, and reigning world champion in monobob and two-man bobsleigh. She became a US citizen this week.

Drivers often learn in a monobob, which can be used as a development sled, but Meyers Taylor had never driven one until last January.

“There is a steep learning curve,” she said. “They can slip, they just don’t have the weight, the speed. They don’t stick to the sidewalk like the two men do. They are much more fearful.

Monobobs finish a bobsled run about two seconds slower than a two-man bob. “The less weight you have, the slower you go,” said Meyers Taylor.

Although each team has a sled from the same manufacturer, they are not the same. The aerodynamics should stay the same, but teams can make small changes to gain an advantage. “It’s how you fix them, how you set up the bob,” Meyers Taylor said.

Meyers Taylor and other international lugers recently spent three weeks testing the Beijing track which will host the Olympics. There have only been two accidents during that time, Meyers Taylor said.

“But the course is difficult to follow quickly,” she said. “It’s a very delicate track. On the first two corners you can lose a lot of time.

Despite being a potential contender for a medal in both women’s events, Meyers Taylor said she had mixed feelings about the addition of the monobob. Asked about her favorite event, she replied with certainty, “Four-man. I have a huge preference for the quartet.

“We were fighting for four men,” said Meyers Taylor. “Part of the bobsleigh draw is the team aspect of it.”

  • Bobsleigh: Monobob woman

  • Freestyle skiing: Mixed team jumps

  • Freestyle skiing: Big air men

  • Freestyle skiing: Female big air

  • Short track speed skating: Mixed team relay

  • Ski jumping: Mixed team event

  • Snowboard: Snowboard cross by mixed team

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