What is the new female-only Olympic monobob event that will feature at Beijing 2022?

One of the seven new events of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, monobob is an individual version of bobsleigh that has increased female participation in the sport. Read on to learn what's different about monobob, who the sport's big names are and what the competition schedule will look like when it begins on 13 February at Beijing 2022.

By Sheila Vieira
Picture by Getty Images

Who said bobsleigh could only be a team sport? For the first time, the Olympic Winter Games will host the monobob competition - an individual event exclusive to female athletes - at Beijing 2022.

Named after the Greek work ‘mónos’ (single), monobob will increase female participation in Olympic bobsleigh, joining the two-woman competition. The men already have two events: four-man and two-man.

The competition was part of the programme of the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Lillehammer 2016 and Lausanne 2020, with both genders participating.

Want to know what to expect from women’s monobob at Beijing 2022, who to watch out for and when the competition starts? Find out all you need to know below.

What is different about monobob?

While the teammates of bobsleigh divide among themselves the roles of pushing, driving and breaking, the monobob athlete has to do it all on her own, in a sled weighing at least 162 kg.

“It does get lonely sometimes. The sled also weighs almost the same as the two-woman and you need someone to help you carry it,”, said Olympian Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian, from Jamaica.

The challenge is the same for all, though. “The way monobob is set up, you have standardised sleds. So it comes down to you as an athlete and a driver and it gives you a true test. Winning isn’t down to souped-up equipment. We all have the same runners. We can see who is the top of the top,” Canadian Cynthia Appiah told Olympics.com in 2020.

Cynthia Appiah
Picture by 2017 Getty Images

Is competing alone a burden? Not to Appiah. “A huge plus of mono is that you are your own person. If you mess up, it is completely on you," she said.

Fenlator-Victorian also believes that there is less pressure when you compete in monobob.

“If I crash, it’s just me. There’s not the concern that there is in two-woman, when you’re responsible for the other person as a pilot.

“Every time you take a small tap you’re like ‘I’m so sorry,’ but when you’re alone, you just brush it off.”

Laura Nolte of Germany during the IBSF World Championships 2021 Altenberg Women's Monobob competition on February 13, 2021 in Altenberg, Germany.
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

More diversity in bobsleigh

Women began competing in Olympic bobsleigh at Salt Lake City 2002. Twenty years later, monobob has given female bobsleigh athletes from all over the world the chance to fight for more Olympic medals.

The USA's Kaillie Humphries, one of the most successful female bobsleigh athletes and a big supporter of female representation in the sport, welcomed the new event.

"It’s great to know that women have more chances to win medals, and to win the first-ever [World Championship] was just a little cherry on top,” she said. “I worked super hard to be able to win both events [monobob and two-woman]."

MORE: Kaillie Humphries: 'Don't put limitations on athletes'

Besides improving female representation, monobob can be an opportunity for NOCs that don’t have a big tradition in winter sports to participate in the women’s Olympic bobsleigh competition.

“It’s awesome for development, to bring more nations to the sport,” said Fenlator-Victorian.

Some 20 athletes will compete in the Olympic monobob competition.

Athletes to watch in the women’s monobob competition

Current monobob world champion and two-time Olympic two-woman bobsleigh champion, Kaillie Humphries hopes to be the first Olympic monobob gold medallist. The American used to represent Canada until 2020.

During the 2021/22 season, Humphries won the Altenberg race in Germany, in December and the last race, in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Another top contender from the USA is 37-year-old three-time Olympic medallist Elana Meyers Taylor, who won the overall World Monobob Series in 2021/22. Canadians Cythia Appiah and Christine de Bruin finished third and fourth in the rankings. Australian Breeana Walker is another athlete coming from a great season.

However, you can never underestimate the Germans when it comes to bobsleigh: Laura Nolte - the monobob gold medlallist at Lillehammer 2016 - took bronze at the last World Championships.

Beijing 2022 women’s monobob schedule

The women’s monobob competition will start on 13 February at 9:30 local time, with the first two heats. The third and the decisive fourth heat will take place the following day, 14 February at 9:30. At around 11:45 Beijing time, the world will discover the first Olympic monobob medallists when they are crowned at the Yanqing Sliding Centre.

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