Bobsled 101: Competition Format

Learn about the competition format for bobsled at the Beijing Olympic Games. (Usa Today Sports)

There are four bobsled events on the 2018 Olympic program: the two-man, four-man and two-woman and women's monobob.
Competition Format
All four bobsled events will consist of four runs timed electronically to 1/100th of a second. Each event will be contested over two days, with two runs on each day.

The final standings for all the events will be determined by the total time over all the runs; the winner is the sled with the lowest aggregate time. If two teams complete the competition in a tie, they are awarded the same place.

Start order

In order of their IBSF ranking, the 10 best-placed pilots choose start numbers 6 to 15 in the two-man and four-man events, and 4 to 13 in the women’s event. For men, the first five starting numbers will be drawn from the last seven ranked pilots in the field. For women, the first three starting numbers will be drawn from the last five ranked pilots in the field. The remaining pilots start in order of their IBSF ranking.

The first heat begins with the pilot with the lowest number and continues in order until all competitors have gone.

The second heat’s starting order is based off the results in the first heat. It begins from 20th-ranked pilot to the first, and then continues with the 21st to the last.

The third heat is based off the combined rankings from the first two heats. It begins with the top-ranked pilot and runs until the last-ranked pilot. Those ranked 21st and lower after the third heat are not eligible to advance to the next heat.

The fourth and final heat starts with the 20th-ranked pilot and goes until the pilot ranked first.

The Start
The start is authorized by an audio and visual signal and from that point, the team has 60 seconds to start its run. Typically the starting block is approximately 50 feet behind the starting line, which is where the electronic eye that triggers the clock to begin is located. The timing begins when the front of the sled passes the electronic eye.


Teams may push their sleds as long as they want, but any additional help in the starting procedure is prohibited. 


For a run to count, all team members must cross the finish line with the sled. If a sled crashes, it is usually eliminated from competition, as the failure to finish any single run results in disqualification from the competition. The run, however, will count as long as all the competitors cross the finish line with the sled, regardless of whether it is on its side or upside down.