|Dates||16 – 23 February 2014|
The bobsleigh events of the 2014 Winter Olympics were held at the Sanki Sliding Centre in Rzhanaya Polyana which is approximately 60 km (37 miles) northeast of the host city of Sochi. The track, which was due to be built even if Sochi’s Olympic bid had been unsuccessful, was opened in 2012 and hosted its first major event, the finale of the 2012-13 World Cup series in February 2013. For both bobsleigh and skeleton the track was configured to measure 1365 metres with 19 curves and an average drop of 9.3%. After safety issues had proved problematic for the Vancouver Games, the Sochi track appeared less challenging, and after ice quality issues had been addressed following the test event, the debate drifted into whether the track was sufficiently difficult for an Olympic championship.
One could argue that home advantage was the deciding factor in the men’s events but that would be a little unfair on Aleksandr Zubkov. Zubkov had been one of the top drivers in the world for a decade and had won medals at both Torino and Vancouver but in Sochi he was unbeatable. He won gold in the two-man event by over half a second then, on the final day of the Games, ensured his place in Russian Olympic history by adding gold in the four-man event. Steve Holcomb also earned medals in both events, earning a brace of bronze medals for the USA. Switzerland and, for the first time in Olympic history, Latvia also returned home with medals in men’s competition.
The drama in the women’s race centred on the attempt of Lauryn Williams to emulate Eddie Eagan’s feat of winning gold at both Summer and Winter Olympics. Williams, a member of the winning US sprint relay team at London 2012, acted as brakewoman for Vancouver bronze medallist Elana Meyers. After 3 runs it seemed that their efforts were to be rewarded with the Olympic title but an untidy final run sent them down to second place and confirmed that the Canadian pair of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse would create their own piece of Olympic history as the first women to successfully defend an Olympic title in bobsleigh.
Also notable was the failure of the German challenge which, despite making a selection from among the world’s best pilots and crew, failed to overcome technical inferiorities in the design of their sleds and the preponderance of converted track and field athletes in the sport. Whilst athletes had always been attracted to the sport, the number and quality of the converts was especially noticeable in 2014. The most publicity of the bobsleigh events was generated by the return to Olympic competition of the Jamaican team. Driven by veteran Winston Watts, they placed last of the finishers in the two-man event. Some less desirable publicity came as a result of two positive drug tests, Italian Daniel Frullani and Poland’s Daniel Zalewski were the guilty parties.
|Two, Men||Olympic||16 – 17 February 2014||60||20|
|Four, Men||Olympic||22 – 23 February 2014||124||19|
|Two, Women||Olympic||18 – 19 February 2014||39||13|
|172 (133/39)||23 (22/13)|
|Two, Men||Switzerland 1||SUI||United States 1||USA||Latvia 1||LAT|
|Four, Men||Latvia 1||LAT||United States 1||USA||Great Britain 1||GBR|
|Two, Women||Canada 1||CAN||United States 1||USA||United States 2||USA|