The bobsled events at the Winter Olympics are traditionally some of the most exciting and most highly-anticipated competitions on the calendar, but this year features a new addition to the program, as the “Monobob” event makes its Olympic debut.
The introduction of “Monobob” is the first chance to the bobsledding competition calendar since 2002, when the two-woman bobsled event was introduced in Salt Lake City.
So the question remains…..
What is Monobob?
As the name implies, “Monobob” is a race where one competitor races down a specially-designed ice track in a bobsled.
The event was voted into the Winter Olympics program back in 2018, and is making its debut this year in Beijing.
Currently, only women’s “Monobob” is an Olympic sport. Women also race in the two-person event, while on the men’s side, two-man and four-man bobsledding are both Olympic events.
How is the Event Conducted?
In the Monobob event, each competitor will take four runs down the track, with the combined time of the four runs determining the winner.
The first two runs took place on Sunday in Beijing, while the final two runs will begin on Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. Central time (9:30 a.m. Beijing time).
Who is Competing From the United States?
The United States entered two competitors in the Monobob event. Kaillie Humphries is currently in first place with a combined time of 2:09.10, while Elana Meyers Taylor is in fourth place with a combined time of 2:10.42.
How Has the U.S. Fared in Previous Olympics?
The United States won one medal in bobsled in the 2018 Olympics, with Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs teaming up to win the silver in the two-woman event.
Meyers Taylor also won the silver medal in Sochi in 2014, with Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans winning bronze.
Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton won the silver medal in Sochi in the two-man bobsled, while the duo also won silver in the four-man bobsled with Curtis Tomasevicz and Christopher Fogt.
Where Will the Race Air?
The monobob event will air live on NBCOlympics.com, and will also air on NBC following the conclusion of Super Bowl LVI.
YANQING, China — Elana Meyers Taylor’s vision of the Beijing Olympics and the Olympics that are playing out have only a distant relationship to each other. She was sliding Saturday morning, driving her bobsled at harrowing speeds down a track here. That part fits. Little else does.
“I had this whole intention of coming here and doing this with my family,” Meyers Taylor said after her final training run at Yanqing Sliding Center. “I’ve done everything with my family. Every race, everything, it’s all been a family affair.
“And so now to have that shock of all of a sudden being at the Olympics and not being able to spend time with them, that’s something I didn’t plan for. We planned for all kinds of worst-case scenarios at the Games, but this was something that I didn’t see coming.”
The coronavirus may be abating in most parts of the world, but these are still, undeniably, the second straight Covid Olympics. Anyone in China with any affiliation with the Games realizes this. The bubble is real, and the bubble can be suffocating. Life is this: hotel, throat swab, bus, venue, bus, hotel. The Olympics as a cultural exchange is a notion from yesteryear and the future. Maybe someday. Not now.
Meyers Taylor is Team USA’s reminder of all that. These are her fourth Olympics, and she is seeking her fourth medal — her first gold. But on Jan. 29, two days after arriving in China, she tested positive for the coronavirus. So did her husband, Nic Taylor, an alternate on the American men’s bobsled team. So did her son Nico, nearly 2. So did her father, Eddie Meyers, who was permitted to make the trip to help with Nico.
Monobob is one of seven new sporting events making its debut at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
A solo version of bobsledding, it’s only open to female athletes at the Beijing Games and, like most of the other new events, is intended to improve gender equality at the Olympics: Female athletes make up 45% of participants at this year’s Games, the highest percentage in history. But the International Olympic Committee has a goal of full one-to-one gender parity by the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
Here’s what to know about monobob, who to keep an eye out for and what to know about other winter sporting events debuting at the Beijing Games.
The new sport joins the two-woman race and the two- and four-man events at the Yanqing National Sliding Center, about 45 miles outside of Beijing in the Xiaohaituo Mountain Area. The women’s monobob competition starts with two heats on Feb. 13 at 9:30 a.m. local time (Saturday, Feb. 12 at5:30 p.m. PT, 8:30 p.m. ET).
The third and the fourth heats will take place the following day at 9:30 a.m. local time. (Sunday, Feb. 13 at 5:30 p.m. PT, 8:30 p.m. ET), with medalists announced at around 11:45 a.m. Beijing time (7:45 p.m. PT, 10:45 p.m. ET).
Why did the Olympics add monobob?
Women participating in bobsledding is relatively new — the first two-woman bobsled event wasn’t held until the Salt Lake City Games in 2002. Having a solo event allows the smaller pool of female bobsledders more chances to go for the gold.
The event also opens the door for countries that don’t have a long tradition of winter sports — or a deep bench of bobsledders.
Who are the monobob athletes to watch?
Team USA has the top contenders in women’s monobob: Canadian-American Kallie Humphries and reigning champion Elana Meyers Taylor.
Humphries, a two-time Olympic two-woman bobsled champion, represented Canada until 2020.
Meyers Taylor won the overall World Monobob Series in 2021-22. She missed her chance to be a flag-bearer in the opening ceremonies on Friday because she was under COVID-19 quarantine but was cleared on Saturday — well before the first monobob heat on Feb. 13.
Other bobsledders to beat include Germany’s Laura Nolte and Mariama Jamanka, Canadians Christine de Bruin and Cynthia Appiah and Australia’s Breeana Walker.
What other new events have been added to the 2022 Winter Olympics?
Along with the monobob, several other Winter Olympic events make their debut this year.
Freeski Big Air for both men and women makes its first official appearance this winter in Beijing, following the arrival of Big Air snowboarding at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang.
Skiers speed down a ramp and then launch into the air to perform daredevil tricks. Judges rate skiers based on trick difficulty, height, execution and landing. Competitors are judged on the best of three runs.
Big Air ski events were held Feb. 7 and 8: In the men’s event’s Norway took the gold, with the USA earning silver and Sweden getting the bronze medal. In the women’s competition, China took the gold, France grabbed silver and Switzerland earned bronze.
Another new event aiding that goal is mixed-team ski jumping, held about 100 miles outside Beijing in Zhangjiakou.
Five judges award points for style, distance and smoothness of landing, according to NBC Sports, “along with gate and wind compensation points.” The lowest and highest scores of the four-person team are eliminated.
Mixed-team ski jumping events were held Feb. 7, with Slovenia earning gold, the Russian Olympic Committee taking silver and Canada earning bronze.
Mixed freestyle ski aerials is also a new arrival, with teams of three — either two men and one woman or two women and one man — performing flips, spins and other ski acrobatics. Teammates’ scores are combined to determine winners.
“If you’ve ever watched an aerial ski competition, you know that you’ll see at least one crash,” freestyle aerial world champion Laura Peel promised Olympics.com.
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This year, snowboard cross adds a mixed event for the first time, with one man and one woman on each team. The event functions as a two-person relay in a knockout bracket, according to the International Ski Federation: Male team members go first, with their counterparts released from the gate as soon as their teammate crosses the finish line.
The team to cross the finish line in the shortest amount of time are the gold-medal winners.
Mixed-team snowboard cross events are being held on Feb. 12 at 10 a.m. local time (Friday, Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. PT, 9 p.m. ET).
In the new short-track speedskating mixed relay, teams of four athletes (two men and two women) take turns in a 2,000-meter (1.25-mile) relay.
The mixed short-track speedskating relay finished on Feb. 5. After a dramatic crash and a photo finish, China edged out Italy to win the first gold medal in the event.