What is bobsledding anyway?
Bobsledding was invented by the Swiss in the late 1860s. In this strange and dangerous sport, teams run alongside a sled as they push it toward a hill, jump inside just before gravity takes over, and compete for the best run times down contoured tracks. The sleds used to be made of wood, but they're now made of fiberglass and steel.
The name bobsled comes from the bobbing of the crews to increase speed at the start of the race. The first club was started in 1897, but the sport was added to the Olympics in 1924 in Chamonix with the four-man race. The two-man race was added in 1932 at the Lake Placid Games. The first woman's Olympic event, however, wasn't held until 2002 at Salt Lake City. Runs are timed electronically to the 100th of a second. Four runs take place over two days, and the fastest aggregate time of those decides the final ranking.
What's the difference between two-man bobsled and four-man bobsled?
As is probably apparent, the names of these styles come from the number of athletes in the sled. For two-man, the sled is pushed and ridden by a driver and a brakeman. As for four-man, there's a driver, two athletes pushing, and a brakeman. Women's bobsled is always two-man, but mixed-gender crews have been allowed in four-man since the Sochi Games in 2014.
How much does a bobsled weigh?
There's no time to get into gravity right now, but basically the heavier the sled is the faster it'll go. To make this fair, there are minimums and maximums for the weight of the sled without and without a crew. Without the crew, the minimum weight for a sled is 375 pounds for two-man and 463 pounds for four-man. For women's bobsled (always two-man), the sled must weigh 364 pounds. With the crew, the maximum weight of a sled is 860 pounds for two-man, 1,389 pounds for four-man, and 717 pounds for women's bobsled.