Bobsleigh at the Beijing Winter Olympics: What are the rules? How do you steer? Who is the Team GB history maker?
There's every chance of Team GB success in the bobsleigh in Beijing, with Brad Hall's team enjoying a successful World Cup, while Mica McNeill is joined in the women's pair by former summer Olympian Montell Douglas. Greg Rutherford's hopes of winning medals at the summer and winter games are over after missing out on selection. Watch every event across Eurosport, the Eurosport app and discovery+
Olympics Unlocked: How the Bobsleigh works ahead of Beijing 2022
Bobsleigh is an event Team GB can get excited about ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics - with realistic medal prospects and a history-making competitor.
Brad Hall’s male quartet have shown their potential throughout 2021 with multiple podiums in the two-man and four-man event, starting the World Cup season with two silver medals after impressing at a Beijing test event.
Mica McNeill leads the women’s challenge for Britain in the two-women event with her team-mate, Montell Douglas, ready to create her own piece of history. The former sprinter, who is also a Commonwealth relay gold medallist, has already represented Team GB at a Beijing Olympics, competing in the summer Games in 2008 - where she helped the 4x100m relay team reach the final. McNeill will also be competing in the monobob.
Great Britain will be looking for a first medal since 2014 - although that team was deprived of its podium moment in Sochi. The four-man group finished fifth, but after two Russian teams were disqualified for breaking doping regulations, they were eventually upgraded to bronze.
The team to look out for will again be Germany, who have a total of 13 Olympic golds, although Switzerland have the best total number of all colours, with 31 in all.
Team GB bobsleigh participants and medal prospects
Brad Hall and Greg Cackett made it two medals in as many days as they won World Cup silver in the 4-man bobsleigh in Igls alongside Nick Gleeson and Taylor Lawrence (credit @rekords)
Image credit: Eurosport
Hall looks to be the athlete for British fans to get most excited about, at least that seems to be the case judging on early 2021/22 season form. Along with Greg Cackett, the pair have achieved podium places in the two-man, and it was the same when Nick Gleeson and Taylor Lawrence joined them for the four-man.
With that success, it was almost inevitable Lawrence, Gleeson and Cackett would be selected to join Hall in the four-man in Beijing, while Hall and Gleeson will take on two-man duties. Ben Simons has travelled to China as the alternate for the four-man, while Cackett will be in reserve if needed in the pair event.
In the women’s team, McNeill is the number one British pilot and her team-mate for the two-women bob is former sprinter Douglas. Adele Nicoll is the alternate racer.
Bobsleigh events and format
In the men’s competition, there are two disciplines - two-man and four-man - and they have featured in almost every Winter Olympics since 1924.
Women’s competition was first introduced at Salt Lake City 2002 with the two-woman event, while the monobob - a single person bobsleigh - will make its debut in Beijing.
All of the events follow the same format - compete across four heats, with the lowest cumulative time winning gold.
The key is to get off to a rapid start with the push, which is why Britain has included so many explosive sprinters over the past few decades.
Who won the last Olympic Gold in bobsleigh and what is the world record?
As an example of how tight competition can be, the Canadian team of Justin Kripps and Alexander Kopacz shared two-man gold with Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis in Pyeongchang, with both crews setting identical times over four runs.
Friedrich and Margis picked up two golds in South Korea, teaming up with Candy Bauer and Martin Grothkopp to take the four-man title.
In the women’s event, the title also went to Germany, with Mariama Jamanka and Lisa Buckwitz taking gold.
There is no world record due to the courses all being different, but the top speed recorded is reported to be 201km/h.
Robots take over cafeteria at Beijing Winter Olympic Games
The course length in Beijing is 1,615 meters including 16 turns and a unique 360 degree section.
Bobsleighs are steered using two ropes (a bit like a very basic sled), with the brake applied from the back. Athletes attempt to get the best possible start with an explosive push, and the clock starts once they have hit the 15-metre mark.
Crews also have to stick to weight limits - 630kg for the four-man, 390kg for two-man and 340kg for the two-woman. This is the combined weight of the sled, athletes and equipment, and any excess will result in disqualification.
What’s the difference between bobsleigh, skeleton and luge?
Bobsleigh has a self-contained sled, much like sitting in a cockpit - but it has similar principles as the other sliding sports by using the same course with sleds built on top of runners (blades).
In skeleton, a small sled is leapt on by an athlete taking on the track head first and on their front, while luge is the opposite - feet first and on their back.
Remember those rather flimsy ropes that are at the front of a battered plastic sled from your childhood? Well, sort of like that. Two handles are attached to pieces of rope so that the front runner can be manoeuvred to the curvature of the course. There are also brakes at the back.
The key is to use these as subtly as possible and maintain the ideal racing line - any deviation will result in a slower time, and the margins are extremely fine.
Has the Jamaican team ever won a medal in Bobsleigh?
Cool Runnings is one of the greatest sports films, right? It has to be...but no, there has been no medal for the Jamaican bobsleigh team, though they are now a regular fixture - and it makes complete sense why that is the case.
As mentioned before, the sport is now littered with former sprinters who either did not make the grade or have wanted to try something new - their skill is one of the key attributes needed for a successful bobsleigh career, and Jamaica has an extremely strong athletics pedigree.
Jamaica made their debut at the 1988 Games in Calgary, led by Dudley Stokes, but they did not finish. Since then, the four-man team has competed at four more Games - the most recent in 1998.
In the two-man, teams competed between 1988-2002, before they made a return in 2014 - they did not qualify in 2018, but a two-woman team did.
Jamaica will be sending a four-man team to Beijing.