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IBSF Olympic Preview Women's Monobob and 2-man Bobsleigh, Photos: IBSF / Viesturs Lacis

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Women’s monobob on the cusp of its Olympic debut 
 

Yanqing (RWH): 20 years after the 2-woman bobsleigh made its Olympic debut, the Beijing Winter Games will be the first time that there are two Olympic disciplines for female bobsleigh athletes. After four heats on 13 and 14 February, the gold, silver and bronze medals in the women’s monobob will be the first bobsleigh medals to be awarded in the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

When female bobsleigh athletes made their debut at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, a home team from the USA – Jill Bakken/Vonetta Flowers – won gold in the 2-woman bobsleigh. The first Olympic gold in the women’s monobob was won by Laura Nolte (GER) in 2016. The bobsleigh pilot was just 16 years old when monobob was first added to the programme at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer (NOR). And Laura Nolte is back in action in Beijing in 2022 – and also one of the favourites when the discipline makes it major Olympic debut.

The pilots from Team USA have also enjoyed a lot of success in the discipline: Elana Meyers Taylor will arrive in Beijing as the overall winner of the women’s monobob world series; in 2021, her team-mate Kaillie Humphries won the first World Championship title in monobob and will cross the starting line in Yanqing Sliding Center as the reigning World Champion. Both pilots already have an impressive collection of Olympic medals from the 2-woman bobsleigh and have finished on the podium at the last three Winter Games: Competing for Canada, Kaillie Humphries was crowned the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Champion and also won bronze in 2018. In 2010, Elana Meyers Taylor won Olympic bronze as the brakewoman for Erin Pac before going on to pilot her way into silver in 2014 and 2018.

Canada will be represented in the monobob by pilots Cynthia Appiah and Christine de Bruin – and could be in with a chance for a medal: with seven podium finishes between them and just two points separating them, the Canadians finished in third and fourth place in the overall world series.

Fancy an insider tip? Arriving from Australia for the monobob race at Yanqing Sliding Center is Bree Walker – one win in Winterberg, four additional podium finishes and a fifth-place finish in the overall rankings more than qualify the 29-year-old for her place on the list of favourites. Joining her there is Mariama Jamanka (GER): The Olympic Champion in the 2-woman bobsleigh at the PyeongChang Olympics has never fully warmed up in the monobob and didn’t make it onto the podium during the Olympic season – however, she came out on top at the Olympic trials in Yanqing Sliding Center in October.                         

And the hosts? Huai Mingming and Ying Qing will be representing China in the women’s monobob and have a great deal more experience than other athletes on the new track. However, it is difficult to predict what might happen as – like all other bobsleigh disciplines – the Olympic race will be the first time that the team from hosts China see how they measure up against their international competitors after the Chinese World Cup race had to be cancelled due to the pandemic and after no Chinese athletes took part in the Olympic trials. ©RWH2022

Facts and information about the women’s monobob 

The 2021/2022 World Series

In the 2021/2022 Olympic winter season, the women’s monobob world series was the IBSF’s biggest racing series: There were 23 races in total, which were held as part of the BMW IBSF World Cup, North American Cup and European Cup. Overall winner Elana Meyers Taylor (USA) was followed in second and third place by her team-mate Kaillie Humphries (USA) and Canada’s Cynthia Appiah.

The sled

The sled in the women’s monobob is a standardised model that was commissioned by the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation IBSF; it is built by iXent and then sold to the national associations for a fixed price. Apart from some specific exceptions, spare parts are also provided by iXent. The runners are the same as those used in the 2-woman bobsleigh sleds.

The sleds must weigh at least 163 kilograms (empty sleds with runners and OMEGA measurement system). The maximum weight permitted with the athlete, all equipment and any potential extra weight is 248 kilograms. 

The specialists

The majority of female bobsleigh pilots compete in both the 2-woman bobsleigh and the monobob. However, there are also some who specialise in the new Olympic discipline. Karlien Sleper from the Netherlands is one of them. The 29-year-old focuses exclusively on the monobob, has been competing in the solo sled since 2018 and has celebrated two wins and seven additional podium finishes to date. Liidia Hunko from the Ukraine and Viktória Čerňanská (SVK) will be competing exclusively in the monobob at the Winter Games in Beijing. The 19-year-old Slovakian – silver medallist at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games – is the youngest starter in the field and her country’s first female bobsleigh athlete to compete at the Winter Games. ©RWH2022

More Monobob content with facts, insights, interviews etc. will be released on February 13, the first Olympic race day on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – follow @IBSFsliding !
 

Medallists from the Olympic trials in Yanqing

Yanqing (RWH): The medal winners from the Olympic time trials in the Yanqing Sliding Center in October 2021 will all be competing at the Games. In the women’s monobob, Mariama Jamanka (GER) finished first just ahead of Switzerland’s Melanie Hasler and Cynthia Appiah of Canada. In the 2-man bobsleigh, the win went to Francesco Friedrich/Alexander Rödiger (GER) ahead of the UK’s Brad Hall/Greg Cackett and Rostislav Gaitiukevich/Mikhail Mordasov (ROC). Chinese athletes did not take part in the international training sessions or Olympic trials. ©RWH2022

The 2021/2022 season winners – Women’s monobob world series and 2-man bobsleigh
 Saisonsieger Mono 2man

 

2-man bobsleigh pilots: from Olympic debutants to those with 20 years’ experience 

Yanqing (RWH): With pilot Axel Brown and his brakeman Andre Marcano, the IBSF country Trinidad and Tobago will be celebrating their debut in the 2-man bobsleigh on the Olympic sliding track in Yanqing. In the 2021/2022 IBSF North American Cup, the pair finished in the top ten in seven out of the eight races and finished eighth in the overall rankings. Marcano carried the country’s flag into Beijing’s Olympic stadium at the opening ceremony to the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

The most experienced Olympic athlete in the field is Brazil’s Edson Bindilatti, who was also his country’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony. The 42-year-old has 20 years of experience; his first Winter Games were the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. ©RWH2022

Starting order for the women’s monobob and 2-man bobsleigh

 Startreihenfolge E

* Female bobsleigh pilots who have been in the top 10 (for men: pilots in the top 12) in the IBSF ranking list, World Championships or Olympic Winter Games in the previous two seasons will be excluded from the draw for places 1 to 3 in the first run. They will receive the starting place according to their current IBSF ranking.

 

Record-breaking World Champion Friedrich is top favourite in the 2-man bobsleigh 

Yanqing (RWH): After winning Olympic gold in 2018, one 2-man bobsleigh pilot has won almost every elite race and title going: The 2019, 2020 and 2021 World Championships, three European Championship titles (2019, 2021, 2022), four overall World Cup wins and 28 World Cup race wins in the 2-man bobsleigh event alone. The pilot in question is Francesco Friedrich (GER). There is no doubting that the record-breaking World Champion (seven golds in the 2-man bobsleigh, plus four golds in the 4-man bobsleigh) is also a favourite to win at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

However, Justin Kripps of Canada also stands a good chance, too. Four years ago, Kripps and his brakeman Alex Kopacz tied with Friedrich and his brakeman Thorsten Margis to share Olympic gold. In the 2021/2022 Olympic season in the BMW IBSF World Cup, the Canadian finished second behind Francesco Friedrich after finishing on the podium four times.

In 2018 when gold was shared by Friedrich and Kripps, Olympic bronze was awarded to Oskars Melbardis/Janis Strenga of Latvia. For the 2022 Games in Beijing, pilot Melbardis has switched to the role of coach after ongoing issues with his spine ended his career as an athlete in summer 2021. One of the athletes representing Latvia in Beijing is one of the only other pilots apart from Friedrich to win a 2-man bobsleigh title in the past four years: Oskars Kibermanis was crowned European Champion in Sigulda (LAT) in 2020.

Two other names that should be put into the ring are Brad Hall (GBR) and Rostislav Gaitiukevic of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). With a third-place finish at the World Cup opening race in Innsbruck (AUT) and two second-place finishes in Sigulda (LAT) during the Olympic season, Hall has had his most successful season to date. He also finished second at the Olympic trials in Yanqing Sliding Center in October. Rostislav Gaitiukevic, third at the Olympic trials, celebrated his first World Cup race win in Sigulda in January and ended the 2021/2022 season third in the overall rankings.  

Li Chunjian and Sun Kaizhi will be representing the Olympic hosts China at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. The two 25-year-old bobsleigh pilots finished the World Cup season in 22nd and 23rd place. ©RWH2022

 

Olympic schedule for the women’s monobob and 2-man bobsleigh
Schedule Mono 2man E

Subject to changes – Up-to-date times (local time at the track and the user’s local time) are listed on the IBSF website. ©RWH2022

On the sidelines 

Alexander Rödiger (GER), the brakeman for Francesco Friedrich at winning the Olympic trials in Yanqing Sliding Center, will no longer be competing in the 2-man bobsleigh race at the Beijing Olympics. After the test event, the 35-year-old – who won Olympic silver in the 4-man bobsleigh in Vancouver in 2010 (with pilot André Lange) and in PyeongChang in 2018 (with Nico Walther) – tore a tendon in his biceps when unloading his sled and equipment at the World Cup opener in Innsbruck (AUT). In January, Rödiger announced that he would be retiring from his career as an athlete. The last appearance by the 2013 and 2015 4-man bobsleigh World Championship silver medallist (with Maximilian Arndt on both occasions) – who did not join Francesco Friedrich’s team until summer 2021 – was the final 4-man bobsleigh race in the 2021/2022 BMW IBSF World Cup in St. Moritz. Racing with Friedrich along with Alexander Schüller and Martin Grothkopp, Alexander Rödiger finished in second and ended his 15-year international bobsleigh career with a European Championship silver medal. ©RWH2022
 

"Eddie" Eagan's record for eternity: Olympic gold in summer and winter

Beijing (RWH) A record for the ages is held by "Eddie" Eagan. The US-American, whose full name was Edward Patrick Francis Eagan, made himself a legend because he was the only athlete to win gold in two different disciplines at both summer and winter games. Eddie Eagan (1897 - 1967) won in Antwerp in 1920 as a boxer in the light-heavyweight event and twelve years later in Lake Placid won the gold medal again in the 4-man bobsleigh of pilot William Fiske.

In total, 63 bobsleigh push athletes took part in both summer and winter games up to Beijing 2022. Most recently, Lauryn Williams won medals at both Games. The US-American won gold with the sprint relay in London 2012 as well as silver in Athens 2004 in the 100 metres. At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi as a pusher with bobsleigh pilot Elana Meyers she won the silver medal. ©RWH2022 

>> Athlete profiles on ibsf.org with an overview of medals, all results, news and photos 

>> All results from races and training sessions

>> Photos: IBSF Flickr account (for editorial purposes only and with photo credits!)

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