Bobsleigh

Bobsled
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Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026

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Bobsleigh

A fun winter sport invented by the Swiss: a narrow, winding track carved into the ice, a high-tech sled and a race against time. The athletes must have nerves of steel. In Italy, the oldest bobsleigh club is located in Cortina d'Ampezzo. As we look forward to Milano Cortina 2026, here is everything you need to know.

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Competitions

The bobsleigh has 2 or 4 seats, with four runners arranged in pairs. The front pair is adjustable to steer the vehicle, which is controlled by a pilot that pulls on two rings, while the back pair is fixed. There is a brake on the back with metal teeth that bite into the ice and is used to stop the sled after the finish line. At the Milano Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics, there will be four bobsleigh events:

  • Men's Four-Man
  • Two-Man (men and women's)
  • Women's Monobob

In 2026, the events will be held in Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Territory

Picture of Cortina d'Ampezzo. Click on the image to discover more about the area.
Cortina D'Ampezzo

Origins

The sport of bobsleigh developed in the late 19th century when the Swiss invented a sledge made of two skeletons welded together and equipped with a steering mechanism. To increase protection, a frame was added. The first bobsleigh club in the world was founded in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 1897. In 1948, Federico Terschak, Sisto Gillarduzzi, Guido Gillarduzzi, Uberto Gillarduzzi, Amedeo Angeli, and Francesco de Zanna founded Bob Club Cortina. It is the oldest active boblseigh club in Italy. In early competitions, wooden sledges were used, but these were soon replaced by steel sledges. The term ‘bobsleigh’ refers to the movement with which the crews pushed the sleigh back and forth to increase the initial speed at the start. Today, the best teams in the world train all year and compete mainly on artificial ice tracks, using high-tech fibreglass and steel bobsleigh.

Olympic History

In 1924, the men's four-man bobsleigh was already part of the first Winter Olympic Games in Chamonix. The two-man bobsleigh was added in Lake Placid in 1932, in a format that has remained unchanged to this day. The first women's two-person bobsleigh race was held in 2002.

Basic Rules

The monobob team consists of a single athlete, while two-person bobsleigh races involve a driver and a brakeman. In the four-person bobsleigh, there are also two athletes who help push the sledge at the start. The crew pushes the sled for 50 metres before jumping into it, reaching speeds in excess of 40 km/h in less than six seconds.

The bobsleigh races last two days, with two runs each day. The fastest time determines the winner, measured to a hundredth of a second. If two teams finish in equal times, they are ranked in the same place.

It is best to be among the first to sled down the slope while the ice is still smooth and not rourgh and scratched. To determine which teams will have the best starting position, the world ranking is used for the first run, with the first 10 teams choosing the starting order from 1 to 10, while the 11th and up follow the world rankings. In the second run, the first 25 teams start in reverse order, followed by the 26th and up. In the third run, the starting order follows the ranking after two runs, and only the 20 best teams participate in the last run, in reverse order.

Curiosities about Italian Championships

Gerda Weissensteiner from Bolzano was the first and only Italian athlete to win Olympic medals in two different sports, a gold in luge at Lillehammer 1994 and a bronze in bobsleigh at Turin 2006. She also holds the Italian record for the most appearances at the Winter Olympics, with six, along with Wilfried Huber and Armin Zöggeler in the bobsleigh.

Another Italian icon in bobsleigh is Eugenio Monti, who won two silver medals at the Cortina 1956 Olympics, in the two-man bobsleigh with Renzo Alverà and four-man bobsleigh with Ulrico Girardi, Renato Mocellini, and Renzo Alverà. At the Grenoble 1968 Games, Monti won the gold medal in both two-man bobsleigh with Luciano De Paolis and four-man bobsleigh with the De Paolis, Mario Armano, and Roberto Zandonella.

FAQ

Here are the answers to your questions.

  • Which male athlete has won the most medals in bobsled at the Olympic Games?

  • Which female athlete has won the most medals in bobsleigh at the Olympic Games?

  • Which countries have won the most medals at the Olympics?

  • Who are the italian Olympic bobsleigh champions?

  • Where will the bobsleigh competitions at Milano Cortina 2026 take place?

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