What is it?
“Sanka, ya dead?” Need I say more?
Bobsleigh, or bobsled, shot to fame in popular culture after the hit film Cool Runnings hit the silver screen in 1993. The movie tells the true story of the Jamaica bobsleigh team’s debut in the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Jamaica haven’t had a four-man bobsleigh team compete in the Olympics since 1998, but this time around they will. The island nation will also bring a two-man bobsleigh team and a woman’s monobob (a one-person bobsleigh).
A bobsleigh race begins with a running start; competitors stand at the start line and push the bobsleigh for 50 meters before boarding. The sleigh then flies around the track.
Race times depend on many factors, including weight, aerodynamics, ice conditions and – most importantly – the skill of the pilot. Races are often so close that finish times are recorded in hundredths of seconds, leaving no room for error.
Due to the intense speed of bobsleighs, sledders are repeatedly exposed to high-G force and their head will have multiple small collisions with their helmet when turning.
When a big crash occurs, the athletes will slide down the course at extremely high speeds, often with their head grinding along the surface or bouncing off the sled itself.
The same brain trauma that is often seen in boxers is feared to be a danger for bobsledders too.
When is it?
Where is it?
National Sliding Center, Yanqing Zone.
Who’s gonna win?
When it comes to bobsleigh, Germany is in a league of their own. They have the most world championship medals in the two-man, four-man and women’s events. At the last Winter Olympics, they picked up gold in all competitions.
Francesco Friedrich is one of the world’s best (and probably the best there has ever been, too). The German national has 13 world championship gold medals and 46 World Cup titles to his name.
The defending female Olympic champions, Mariama Jamanka and Lisa Buckwitz, are also German. However, they face stiff competition from Kaillie Humphries from the USA and Heather Moyse, Canada.
What about China?
China doesn’t have a rich history in sliding sports, having only competed in the bobsleigh and skeleton twice before.
This year, however, they have enlisted the help of technical coach Florian Lindan. The Canadian national guided South Korea to a silver medal when they hosted the Olympic Games on home soil in 2018.
Cause for optimism?
Check out all 15 events in our Beijing 2022 Bluffer's Guide by scanning the QR code:
[Cover image via Wikimedia]