Here's a Guide to Bobsled at the 2022 Winter Olympics

Everything you need to know about the classic Winter Olympics sport

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Bobsled is an iconic part of the Winter Olympics. 

Being featured in every Winter Games except 1960, it is one of the most thrilling sports to fans around the world. 

Most Americans are familiar with the sport from the movie "Cool Runnings," which told the story of the Jamaican Bobsled team. While the movie captures the essence of the wonderful experience that happened more than three decades ago, the sport itself is even more captivating as athletes race down a track at blazing fast speed to a quest for Olympic glory.

Bobsled is one of the three sledding events on the Beijing Olympic program, with 12 medals set to be awarded.

But what exactly is bobsled? How did it begin and who are some of the top athletes competing in Beijing? 

Here’s everything you need to know about the sport ahead of the 2022 Winter Games.

How did bobsled get its name? 

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Bobsled earned its name from the way crews would bob back and forth to increase the speed of the sled at the start of the race.

The sport's origins date back to Switzerland in the late 1860s. Teams would run alongside a sled and push it toward a hill before jumping inside just before a gravity-dropping fall. 

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What are the rules in bobsledding?

Four runs timed electronically to a hundredth of a second. Each event will be contested over two days, with two runs each day.

The final standings for all events will be determined by the total time over all of the runs. The sled with the lowest aggregate time is the winner. If two teams are tied at the end of the competition, they will be awarded the same place.

When did bobsled start at the Olympics?

The sport made its Olympic debut with the four-man event at the 1924 France Winter Olympics. The two-man event was added to the program at the 1932 Lake Placid Games. 

When were women added to Olympic bobsled? 

Women weren’t added to the program until the two-woman event debuted at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002. 

In 2022, women’s monobob will be added as a brand-new event in Beijing.

What is a two-man and a four-man bobsled? 

In the two-man event, the sled is pushed and ridden by one driver and one brakeman. In the four-man event, one driver, two pushers and a brakeman all control the sled.

What is a monobob? 

Monobob is a single-person bobsled. Single-person sleds were introduced to international competitions to help encourage youth participation and allowed athletes who could drive but not push to compete. 

What determines Olympic bobsled starting order?

Athletes are placed in order of their IBSF (International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation) ranking, with the 10 best-placed pilots choosing start numbers 4 to 13 in each event. 

For men, the first three starting numbers are drawn from the last seven ranked pilots in the field. 

For women, the first three starting numbers are drawn from the last five ranked pilots in the field. The remaining pilots start in order of their IBSF ranking.

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When will bobsled take place at the 2022 Winter Olympics?

Bobsled events at the 2022 Winter Olympics will be held at the Xiaohaituo Bobsleigh and Luge Track, which is one of the Yangqing cluster venues. All four bobsled events will be held there between Feb. 13 and Feb. 19.

Which Olympic country is the most successful in bobsled?

Switzerland is the most successful nation in Olympic bobsled history, winning 31 medals. Germany has won the most gold medals in the event with 13 and has 25 total medals. The United States also has 25 medals.

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Who are the best Olympic bobsledders?

Germany’s Bogdan Musiol won seven Olympic medals during his career from the late 1970s to early 1990s. Musiol won one bronze and one gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics and won five silver medals over the course of the 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics.

Two other German Olympians are tied for the record for most gold medals. Kevin Kuske and Andre Lang each won four golds over the course of their careers.

Kallie Humphries is the most successful female bobsledder in Olympic history, winning back-to-back gold medals in 2010 and 2014 for Canada and adding a bronze medal in 2018.

Team USA’s Elana Meyers Taylor also has three medals (two silver, one bronze), but has yet to win gold at an Olympics.

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