Germany’s Laura Nolte and Jonas Jannusch topped the podiums in the men’s and women’s monobob, an exciting new Olympic event that received unanimous praise for creating a level playing field and which looks to have a bright future ahead of it.
For decades the sport of bobsleigh has been dominated by teams using Formula One technologies and aerospace engineering to design the fastest possible bobs, while keeping their innovative research into aerodynamics under close wraps.
Mercedes Schulte AUT © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC
The monobob has been designed to respond to all that and take technology out of the equation by making athletes share the same sleds. As a result, the second runs at Lillehammer saw the fastest athletes on the first runs swap sleds with the slowest.
Daniel Mayhew JAM © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC
By making the Lillehammer 2016 bobsleigh competitions into one-athlete events, the organisers also sought to open the sport up to as many countries as possible and encourage more young athletes to give it a try.
Anastasiia Dudkina RUS © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC
This unique format produced two exciting and closely contested competitions at the Lillehammer Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge Track, the outcome of both the men’s and the ladies’ competitions only being decided when the last competitors crossed the line at the end of their second and final runs.
Taking victory in the women’s event was Laura Nolte of Germany, who beat Austria’s Mercedes Schulte to gold by 0.24 seconds, with Great Britain’s Kelsea Purchall a further 0.02 seconds back in third.
(Gold) Laura Nolte GER, (Silver) Mercedes Schulte AUT and (Bronze) Kelsea Purchall GBR © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC
The men’s event proved just as tight. Germany’s Jonas Jannusch eclipsed Russia’s Maksim Ivanov by 0.15 seconds to make it a double for his country, while the bronze went to Norway’s Kristian Olsen.
“The idea is to give more people more chance of winning and that it isn’t just down to who has the best equipment,” Jonas said. “The basic idea is very good.”
(Gold) Jonas Jannusch GER, (Silver) Maksim Ivanov RUS and (Bronze) Kristian Olsen NOR © Arnt Folvik for YIS/IOC
A hit with young bobsledders
“All the monobobs are quite similar,” said Kelsea “By giving the bob that was last in the first run to the person in first place, you prove that it wasn’t the sled’s fault. It is a really fair process.”
Sangmin Kim KOR © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC
“This is the second season we have been racing with monobobs, but the first time at a major event,” said Ivo Ferriani, the president of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF). “I am sure it will help to develop a young generation because it makes it easier for them to approach the sport, it is sustainable in cost and it’s safe.
“You don’t need someone behind you to drive. You do not focus on the material [technology]. You focus on the driving and the athletic skill.”
George Johnston GBR © Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC