Nations will now only be able to enter two sleds at the Olympics and the world championships in bobsled and skeleton, after the sport’s ruling body voted on Monday to cap the fields.
The changes are to first take effect at the 2017 world championships. They would also be enacted for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games if the International Olympic Committee approves of the plan, which is expected.
Stronger nations such as the US and Germany have traditionally gotten three sleds into the fields at worlds and the Olympics in all bobsled and skeleton disciplines. While this move will not affect the number of entrants in World Cup competition, it could be a step toward inclusion of a new discipline — four-women bobsled — at the top competitions.
“If it’s going to help the women’s sport and we can actually increase numbers, then I’m all for it,” said US women’s bobsled pilot Elana Meyers Taylor, a two-time Olympic medalist and the current top-ranked women’s driver. “But if we’re not, if we’re just doing this as a theory, then I think we need to go back to the drawing board.”
Also on Monday, FIBT, the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Foundation, voted to reduce the maximum permitted combined weight for sleds and crew in women’s bobsledding by 30kg. That change is to be phased in over the next two seasons.
“We’re not talking about a huge game-changer where you’d have to build a new sled and all the current athletes are no longer relevant,” USA Bobsled and Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele said. “It’s not nearly that severe, but it will narrow the gap and there will be some adjustments.”
In other news, the FIBT has announced that homologation — a major step toward internationally certifying a track — has been scheduled at the Pyeongchang track from Feb. 29 through March 8 next year. A select number of sliders from around the world are to be invited to test the track and give feedback.
The World Cup season for bobsled and skeleton opens in November at Altenberg, Germany. Other World Cup stops this year include Winterberg and Konigssee, Germany; Lake Placid, New York; Park City, Utah; Whistler, Canada; and St Moritz, Switzerland. The world championships are to take place in Igls, Austria, from Feb. 8 to Feb. 21 next year.
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