The first round of the women’s monobob event, held Sunday morning at the Yanqing National Sliding Center in Beijing, marked the long-awaited arrival of a new Olympic sport.
The monobob, which features a woman pushing, controlling and braking a bobsled (as opposed to a group of two or four), was introduced this year in Beijing with the aim of giving female athletes a second event to win a medal. Previously, women could only compete in a two-man event while men could race in twos or fours.
The monobob has a short history, having been added to the Bobsled World Cup circuit in 2018 only. It is one of seven new events at this year’s Winter Games. With only one woman on board, the bobsled is more agile and easier to control, but also more likely to skid on the course. One expert compared the sport to driving a kart as opposed to a semi (the four-man).
The final classification will be determined by adding the times over four runs. The first two races will take place on Sunday, while the third and fourth will take place on Monday.
The first run, which took place on a snowy morning, saw strong performances from two Americans: Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor. The two are considered the event’s medal favorites. Humphries, winner of the inaugural monobob world championship last February, finished first in a field of 20 athletes with a time of 1:04.44. Meyers Taylor, who won the overall Monobob World Series championship in January, tied for third at 1:05.12. Germany’s Laura Nolte finished second and Canada’s Christine de Bruin tied for third with Meyers Taylor.
This event was long in coming for Meyers Taylor, who is participating in her fourth Olympic Games and is aiming for her fourth medal. The Georgia native tested positive for coronavirus two days after arriving in Beijing and missed the lead for Team USA in the opening ceremonies. He now has three rounds left to make the most of this new event.