New Winter Olympics event finishes today: What to know about monobob's solo feats of speed
The Olympics' speediest new event takes center stage at the Beijing Games.
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The 2022 Winter Olympics have seven new events this year. While most of them involve "mixed teams" of men and women, there's one new event for women only: the monobob. The event concludes Sunday in Beijing with the final race deciding the medal winners.
A solo version of bobsledding, monobob is only open to female athletes at the Beijing Games and, like most of the other new events, was added to improve gender equality at the Olympics: Female athletes make up 45% of participants at this year's Games, the highest percentage in history. The International Olympic Committee has a goal of full one-to-one gender parity by the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
Here's what to know about monobob, who to keep an eye out for and what to know about other winter sporting events debuting at the Beijing Games.
The new sport joins the two-woman race and the two- and four-man events at the Yanqing National Sliding Center, about 45 miles outside of Beijing in the Xiaohaituo Mountain Area. The women's monobob competition starts with two heats on Feb. 13 at 9:30 a.m. local time (Saturday, Feb. 12 at5:30 p.m. PT, 8:30 p.m. ET).
The third and the fourth heats will take place the following day at 9:30 a.m. local time. (Sunday, Feb. 13 at 5:30 p.m. PT, 8:30 p.m. ET), with medalists announced at 11:45 a.m. Beijing time (7:45 p.m. PT, 10:45 p.m. ET).
Why did the Olympics add monobob?
Women participating in bobsledding is relatively new: The first two-woman bobsled event wasn't held until the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. Having a solo event allows the smaller pool of female bobsledders more chances to go for the gold.
The event also opens the door for countries that don't have a long tradition of winter sports -- or a deep bench of bobsledders.
Who are the monobob athletes to watch?
Team USA has the top contenders in women's monobob: Canadian-American Kallie Humphries and reigning champion Elana Meyers Taylor.
Humphries, a two-time Olympic two-woman bobsled champion, represented Canada until 2020.
Meyers Taylor won the overall World Monobob Series in 2021-22. She missed her chance to be a flag-bearer in the opening ceremonies on Friday because she was under COVID-19 quarantine but was cleared on Saturday -- well before the first monobob heat on Feb. 13.
Other bobsledders to beat include Germany's Laura Nolte and Mariama Jamanka, Canadians Christine de Bruin and Cynthia Appiah and Australia's Breeana Walker.
What other new events have been added to the 2022 Winter Olympics?
Along with the monobob, several other Winter Olympic events make their debut this year.
Freeski Big Air for both men and women makes its first official appearance this winter in Beijing, following the arrival of Big Air snowboarding at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang.
Skiers speed down a ramp and then launch into the air to perform daredevil tricks. Judges rate skiers based on trick difficulty, height, execution and landing. Competitors are judged on the best of three runs.
Big Air ski events were held Feb. 7 and 8: In the men's event's Norway took the gold, with the USA earning silver and Sweden getting the bronze medal. In the women's competition, China took the gold, France grabbed silver and Switzerland earned bronze.
Another new event aiding that goal is mixed-team ski jumping, held about 100 miles outside Beijing in Zhangjiakou.
Five judges award points for style, distance and smoothness of landing, according to NBC Sports, "along with gate and wind compensation points." The lowest and highest scores of the four-person team are eliminated.
Mixed-team ski jumping events were held Feb. 7, with Slovenia earning gold, the Russian Olympic Committee taking silver and Canada earning bronze.
Mixed freestyle ski aerials is also a new arrival, with teams of three -- either two men and one woman or two women and one man -- performing flips, spins and other ski acrobatics. Teammates' scores are combined to determine winners.
"If you've ever watched an aerial ski competition, you know that you'll see at least one crash," freestyle aerial world champion Laura Peel promised Olympics.com.
This year, snowboard cross adds a mixed event for the first time, with one man and one woman on each team. The event functions as a two-person relay in a knockout bracket, according to the International Ski Federation: Male team members go first, with their counterparts released from the gate as soon as their teammate crosses the finish line.
The team to cross the finish line in the shortest amount of time are the gold-medal winners.
Mixed-team snowboard cross events were held on Feb. 12, with Team USA members Nick Baumgartner and Lindsey Jacobellis taking the gold medal, Italy grabbing silver and Canada taking bronze.
In the new short-track speedskating mixed relay, teams of four athletes (two men and two women) take turns in a 2,000-meter (1.25-mile) relay.
The mixed short-track speedskating relay finished on Feb. 5. After a dramatic crash and a photo finish, China edged out Italy to win the first gold medal in the event.