Bobsleigh at the 1972 Winter Olympics

Dates 4 – 12 February 1972
Medal Events 2

A Japanese bobsleigh tradition did not exist at the time Sapporo was chosen to host the 1972 Winter Olympics. No track existed in Japan and, unsurprisingly, no Japanese crew had participated in any previous edition of the Games. In October 1969 construction of the Olympic bob run began on the North Slope of Mount Teine, Northwest of Sapporo. The structure was completed by January 1970 although many alterations and improvement were made before it hosted the Winter Games.

The track measured 1568 m and had 14 curves. The start was at 495 m above sea level and the course had a vertical drop of 132 m at an average gradient of 8.4%. Unlike at Grenoble the weather was generally favourable and the temperature hovered at between –6.0°C and –8.0°C for the eight competitive runs. Eleven nations entered with only the hosts being first time competitors. Indeed the Japanese crews were the first Asians to compete in Olympic bobsleigh.

After the Games the entire future of bobsleigh in the Olympic Games came under threat from IOC President Avery Brundage who suggested that “Bobsleigh does not belong on the Olympic program. There are only two or three hundred participants worldwide. Sapporo had to build a run costing $1,500,000. Now they are tearing it down”. In fact this was not the case and the track was only dismantled in 1991. Whether the sport would have remained on the program had not the citizens of Colorado rejected Denver’s hosting of the 1976 Games is a moot point.


Event Status Date Participants NOCs
Two, Men Olympic 4 – 5 February 1972 42 11
Four, Men Olympic 11 – 12 February 1972 72 11
79 (79/0) 11 (11/0)


Event Gold Silver Bronze
Two, Men West Germany 2FRG West Germany 1FRG Switzerland 1SUI
Four, Men Switzerland 1SUI Italy 1ITA West Germany 1FRG

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
West Germany FRG 1 1 1 3
Switzerland SUI 1 0 1 2
Italy ITA 0 1 0 1