Junior Reporter: A Lowdown on Bobsledding

February 23, 2018

Celeste M. is on the Xyza Olympics coverage crew and wrote a pretty exciting report on bobsledding. Even if you are not a huge follower of the sport, we think her report will reel you in! Nice work, Celeste!

Olympic Bobsledding—February 18th and 19th

by Celeste McKenzie

So far, the 2018 bobsledding has been pretty historical in PyeongChang. Not only did the United States two-woman team set a new track record, but the two-man team made history too. Nigeria was the first African nation to compete in Olympic bobsledding, and the Jamaican two-woman bobsled team is competing for the first time. They also happened to name their bobsled—the “Cool Bolt”— after nine-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt. He even gave them a shout out and wished them good luck! After all this buzz around the sport, the only thing left to do is watch how it all plays out, right?

Nigerian Bobsled Team     

Jamaican Bobsled Team

via @JamaicaOlympicsTeam

Before we begin with the overview of the past three days, I should start by giving you an explanation of some basic rules. Bobsledding consists of three competitions, each with four runs. There’s the two-man competition, the two-woman competition, and the four-man competition. The four-man teams are allowed to be made up of any gender. Bobsled weight requirements vary depending on the competition, but there is a maximum and a minimum for each category. In every category, the sled is pushed and ridden by two athletes: a driver and a brakeman. And how exactly are the teams ranked?

The final rankings are determined by the fastest overall time. If two times are the same, then the teams are awarded the same place. Men and women compete on the same track (unlike luge), which is about 0.85 miles long with a slight slope (for anyone who’s interested, the slope is 9.48%). Runs are timed by hundredths of a second, so speed is as important as ever! Now that you know the basics, the real fun can begin!

via @Flickr Team Canada

February 18th began the first two heats of the two-man bobsled competition, and February 19th marked the final two heats. February 19th was a medal event, so teams were awarded on that day. The fourth and final heat was nerve-wracking to watch. South Korea led Heat 4 with a time of 3 minutes and 17.4 seconds, beating the top score from Heat 3 (Canada). Each team was quickly beaten as Canada’s first team then led by 0.34 seconds and Germany’s team beat South Korea by the same time. Latvia then knocked Germany out of the competition by leading with 0.15 seconds. Fun fact: Latvia has a rich bobsled tradition that dates back to centuries ago! In fact, in the 1980s, the only bobsled track in the Soviet Union was located in Latvia!

The second German bobsled team went next, but they weren’t able to beat Latvia’s score as they were behind by 0.23 seconds. Canada and Germany’s third competing bobsled team went next. Germany had a leading score with 3 minutes and 16.84 seconds, effectively beating out Latvia, and it seemed as though they would win gold! Canada had started off late, but they were quickly catching up! Finally, when they crossed the finish line, the crowd cheered for both countries. They had tied! Canadian Pilot Justin Kripps had tied for gold with German pilot Francesco Friedrich! The last time Canada won a gold medal (twenty years ago) was a tie also! In the end, Canada and Germany came out on top with dual gold medals, while Latvia sat happily in third place with a bronze medal. You can’t complain with third in the world, right?

To conclude, the first three days of bobsled competition were eventful to say the least! Not only was news surrounding the topic beforehand, but history was made during the runs too! If you ask me, I’d say this wasn’t a bad start for the next six days! Are you ready for the two-woman competition yet? Because I sure am!