Women getting a second bobsled event at Olympics
July 19, 2018
Women's bobsledders wanted a second medal event at the Olympics, and it's going to happen.
It just isn't exactly what everyone wanted.
Monobob — a one-person sled — is getting added to the slate of women's competitions for the 2022 Beijing Games, after the International Olympic Committee decided Wednesday to include that among seven new medal events for the next winter program. Some of the sport's premier drivers, most notably Elana Meyers Taylor of the U.S. and Kaillie Humphries of Canada, were lobbying for a four-woman event to be added instead.
"To be fair, this is historic in that it adds another discipline for women's bobsled and that should be celebrated," Meyers Taylor wrote to fans and friends in a Facebook message. "Personally it's a discipline that weighs heavily in my favor as I am one of the fastest pushing pilots in the world. However, I would be remiss if I did not express my disappointment as myself and many others have been laying the groundwork for 4woman. We will keep fighting."
Men's bobsled has two- and four-man events at the Olympics. Women's bobsled, which has been part of the Olympics since 2002, is only a two-woman event. Meyers Taylor and Humphries have had some experience over the past several years driving four-person sleds, sometimes with all-male push crews, sometimes with all-female crews.
The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation lobbied the IOC to add four-woman bobsled.
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"While it is disappointing that 4-women's bobsled and a team event were not accepted for 2022, we still have reason to celebrate this moment," Darrin Steele, the CEO of USA Bobsled and Skeleton, wrote in a letter to team members and coaches Wednesday.
Monobob will not significantly drive up numbers of women competing in bobsled at the Olympics — at least, not at first. But there are clear advantages to introducing that discipline to the sport.
Unlike all other sliding events, where teams secure their own sleds and equipment and the teams with the most money to invest tend to do most of the winning, the monobob sleds will be identical to one another — since they'll be paid for by the IBSF. Every sled will be set up the same way, which should mean that the person who best combines a fast start with a clean drive down the ice will more than likely wind up winning.
But the IBSF also sees this as a developmental option. Nations that haven't traditionally been successful in women's bobsled because of a lack of great equipment or not enough good push athletes now could have a better chance of medaling. All they'll need is a strong driver.
And the plan is to ask the IOC to reconsider four-woman for 2026.
"Once a nation has a competent pilot in monobob, the risk is much less to invest in 2-women's bobsled and the starting point when 4-women's bobsled is introduced after 2022 could be much better," Steele wrote. "That's the theory."
It's unclear when the IBSF will have the monobob sleds ready for teams to begin using. There are no events for monobob on the 2018-19 World Cup schedule.
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