(Reuters) – Focus on bobsleigh at the Beijing Olympics.
THE ABSOLUTE BASICS
*Teams hurtle down a specially designed, ice-covered, twisting track on a mechanically steered and braked sledge.
*For men there are competitions for two- and four-person teams, while for women there are two-person and – for the first time – one-person (monobob) events.
* Teams make four runs, with each run counting towards the total time.
HOW MANY MEDALS?
There are four gold medals up for grabs – in the men’s four- and two- person races and in the women’s two-person and monobob events.
WHAT HAPPENED IN PYEONGCHANG?
In the men’s two-person competition four years ago, Germany’s Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis tied for first place with Canada’s Justin Kripps and Alexander Kopacz. Germany took gold in the four-person, as well as the women’s two-person, with Mariama Jamanka and Lisa Buckwitz.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN BEIJING?
Germany will be the team to beat again, with Freidrich being touted as the greatest bobsleigher of all time, though Kripps and Canada remain challengers.
In the women’s, Team USA’s Elana Meyers Taylor and Kaillie Humphries will be tough competition.
We will see the Olympic debut of the monobob, with a single driver in the sleigh.
With all competitors having to use the same design and model sled, it is seen as a leveller for competing countries with different budgets.
WHEN IS IT HAPPENING?
Feb. 13 to Feb. 20.
WHERE IS IT HAPPENING?
The sliding events are being held at the newly constructed Yanqing National Sliding Centre, in a mountainous area 74 kilometres northwest of Beijing.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
The bobsleigh’s origins go back to the Swiss alpine resort town of St Moritz in the 1880s, when a steering mechanism was put on two attached sleds to make a toboggan. The town recently hosted the final World Cup race before the Olympics.
One of the most famous of the Winter Olympic sports, the four-man bobsleigh has featured in all but one of the Winter Games since the first in 1924.
WELL FANCY THAT
The sport remains deeply associated with the 1993 Disney film “Cool Runnings”, about the first appearance of the Jamaican bobsleigh team at the 1988 Calgary Games. The four-man Jamaican team will be back for its first event in 24 years in Beijing, with Jamaica competing in three different bobsleigh events.
(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Hugh Lawson)