Olympic bobsleigh at Beijing 2022: Top five things to know

Our guide for the bobsleigh competition at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

By Will Imbo
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Having featured at every Winter Olympics (save one - Squaw Valley 1960), the bobsleigh is an iconic part of the Games. It is one of the three sliding sports on the programme at Beijing 2022, alongside the skeleton and luge.

There are 12 medals available in the bobsleigh competition at the Games, with two events each for men and women, including the brand new monobob event.

Below we outline the top five things to know about bobsleigh at the Olympics - including athletes to watch, the history of the sport, and more!

Top Olympic bobsledders at Beijing 2022

The last three Winter Games have seen three different winners in the four-man bobsleigh, but the recent performance of Francesco Friedrich, Candy Bauer, Alexander Schueller and Thorsten Margis at the World Championships suggests the German squad is the team to beat in Beijing. The four-man crew are the defending Olympic champions (though Martin Grothkopp was part of that team in PyeongChang in place of Schueller), and easily won the gold medal at the 2021 World Championships with a blistering time of 3:35.02 - 0.79 seconds faster than runners-up Latvia.

Germany won gold in every bobsleigh event at the 2018 Winter Olympics, so it would be a huge upset if Germany was absent from the podium in Beijing.

The two-woman bobsleigh was only introduced to the Olympic programme at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, but some powerhouse names have already emerged in the event. Chief among them is Kaillie Humphries (USA), who won gold alongside teammate Heather Moyse (CAN) in Vancouver (2010) and Sochi (2014). Humphries won bronze with brakeman Phylicia George in PyeongChang. She now represents the United States, and won the 2021 World Championships with brakeman Lolo Jones.

The defending Olympic champions in the event are German pair Mariama Jamanka and Lisa Buckwitz, though Jamanka finished sixth at the 2021 World Championships with new brakeman Vanessa Mark.

Another crew to watch out for is the American pair of Elana Meyers Taylor and Sylvia Hoffman. Meyers Taylor is a three-time Olympic medalist, and won silver with brakeman Lauren Gibbs in PyeongChang.

The two-man bobsled event at PyeongChang 2018 arguably provided the most excitement of the competition after the German and Canadian teams won gold medals after finishing with exactly the same times, down to the hundredth of a second. Francesco Friedrich (GER) - who also won gold in the four-man in PyeongChang - piloted the German sled.

Freidrich is the big name in this event, with a record seven consecutive World Championships under his belt.

The women's monobob will be making its Olympic debut in Beijing (the event was part of the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne). 2021 World Champion Kaillie Humphries is one of the favourites in the event, along with fellow Americans Nicole Vogt and Elana Meyers Taylor. World silver medalist Stephanie Schneider (GER) is also a strong contender for the gold medal in Beijing.

Olympic bobsleigh schedule at Beijing 2022

The bobsleigh competition will take place from 13 February - 20 February 2022.

Olympic bobsleigh venue at Beijing 2022

All sliding events will take place at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre, located in the Xiaohaituo mountain area in Yanqing, located 74km north-west of the Chinese capital.

The track that will be used for the sliding events is the first of its kind in the world incle a 360-degree turn. The competition length of the track is 1615 meters, with a maximum gradient of 18% and 16 curves.

The venue has a seating capacity of 2,000 and a standing capacity of 8,000 for spectators.

Olympic bobsleigh competition format at Beijing 2022

The bobsleigh competition at the Winter Olympics features four events:

Two-Man

Two-Woman

Four-Man

Monobob

A maximum of 170 quota spots are available to athletes to compete in bobsleigh at the Games. A maximum 124 men and 46 women may qualify.

Olympic bobsleigh history

The sled has been used as a mode of transportation for centuries, but the sport of bobsleigh didn't begin until the late 19th century, when the Swiss attached a steering mechanism to a toboggan.

In 1897, the world's first bobsleigh club was founded in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The sport earned its name because of the way crews would bob back and forth to increase the speed of the sledge on the straightaways.

In 1923 the Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing was founded, and in 1924 the sport made its Olympic debut with a four-man event at the Winter Games in Chamonix, France. A two-man event was added at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, with a two-woman event joining the programme at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The women's monobob will be a brand new event in Beijing.

By total medal count, Switzerland is the most successful nation in Olympic bobsleigh history with 31 medals. However, Germany has won the most golds in the competition with 13 (25 total medals), with the United States rounding off the top three with 25 medals.

Bogdan Musiol is the most successful athlete in Olympic bobsleigh history with seven medals. Kevin Kuske (GER) and André Lange (GER) hold the record for most gold medals with four each.

Kaillie Humphries is the most successful female bobsledder in Olympic history with three medals (two golds). Elana Meyers Taylor also has three medals, but is yet to win gold at the Winter Games.