Zintis Ekmanis was a track and field athlete, who specialized in the triple jump, winning the 1980 Latvian SSR Championship, before taking up bobsledding in the fall of 1980 and becoming one of the best Soviet/Latvian bobsleigh pilots in the 1980s along with Jānis Ķipurs. He and brakeman Vladimir Aleksandrov were the first Soviet bobsledders to win an Olympic medal, when they won a bronze in the two-man event in 1984 Olympics. Ekmanis and brakeman Nikolay Zhirov also became the first Soviet bobsledders to win a medal at the World Championships, when they won a bronze in the two-man event in 1985. Ekmanis also won a full set of medals at the European Championships – gold in 1985, silver in 1990 and bronze in 1984. At the 1984-1985 European Championships his brakeman was Aleksandrov, while in 1990 his brakeman was Juris Tone. Ekmanis also won a bronze at the 1986-1987 World Cup in the two-man event. Ekmanis won two Soviet titles in the two-man event in 1987 and 1990 and one Latvian title in 1992, also in the two-man event. After his sporting career Ekmanis worked as a sports official, later serving as the vice-president of Latvian Bobsleigh Federation. He has also been a commentator for bobsleigh events on Latvian national television.