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Monobob Makes Olympic Debut

Two American women became the first to win Olympic medals in the new sport.

By:  |  February 16, 2022  |    525 Words
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Kaillie Humphries of the United States celebrates after the bobsleigh women’s monobob heat (Photo by Yao Jianfeng/Xinhua via Getty Images)

The Winter Olympics are full of unique and exciting competitions. This year, a new sport made its Olympic debut in the exhilarating program of bobsledding: the “Monobob.” This introduction is the first change to the bobsledding calendar since the two-woman bobsled event was launched in 2002. Currently, the monobob is only a women’s Olympic sport, while the men have the two- and four-person bobsled.

Bobsled or bobsleigh is a sport that involves racing down narrow and twisting ice-paths in a sleigh. The aim is to get the fastest time while traveling along the downhill tracks. The first bobsleds were modeled after children’s toboggans, but over time they have evolved into sophisticated vehicles. The sleds can travel at over 90 miles per hour (mph), making this a fast-paced and at times dangerous sport.

What is Monobob?

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(Photo by Yao Jianfeng/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Normally, bobsled is held as a team sport, with two or four competitors working together in one sleigh. The monobob is a bit different. As the “mono” part of the name implies, there is only one competitor per sleigh. Representing their country, each woman makes four runs on a specially designed, downward ice track in a bobsled. The combined times of all four runs determine winners of the gold, silver, and bronze medals.

The monobob was added to increase women’s participation in the sport. Four-person bobsled teams have a pilot, two pushers, and a brakeman. For the monobob, one woman does it all. She pushes the 9’1” bobsled, steers by adjusting handles that move the front wheels, and pulls the brake lever to slow down before turns.

Former U.S. bobsledder John Napier, who was the pilot for the two- and four-man sleds in the 2010 Olympics, now trains young athletes in the monobob. He compared the monobob event to “driving a go-kart.” It is lighter than the four-man bobsled, agile, and can reach 75 mph.

USA Takes Silver and Gold

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(Photo by He Changshan/Xinhua via Getty Images)

The United States entered two competitors in the 2022 Beijing monobob competition: Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor. Humphries was an Olympics veteran but won her three previous medals for Canada. She later chose to represent the United States and become a dual citizen. She just barely made the cutoff, gaining her U.S. citizenship in December. She ended up taking home the gold medal.

Elana Meyers Taylor took home the silver, leaving the bronze for Canada’s Christine de Bruin. Taylor nearly missed out on the chance to participate entirely, when she tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after arriving at the Olympic village. She was placed in isolation and tested negative a few days later. She shared that she was mentally and emotionally tired from the isolation experience and did not feel 100% ready to compete. She was able to push through, and despite feeling foggy and slow, she did her best with the help of her fellow athletes and is taking the silver medal back home to the United States.

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