Bobsleigh: Women to join the men in 'four-man' bob

Thu Sep 25, 2014 10:36am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - The four-man bobsleigh may have to be renamed after the sport's governing body announced a ground-breaking move on Thursday to allow women alongside the men in mixed gender teams when the season starts.

"We follow the spirit and movements of our time. There is a strong belief in the FIBT that men and women can compete together in four-man," said International Bobsleigh and Tobogganing president Ivo Ferriani.

"Therefore the executive committee decided to support equal opportunities for men and women in that discipline," he added in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the FIBT said mixed teams would have to qualify for events in the normal way but could compete in the World Cup and other competitions. There would also be nothing to stop all-women teams taking part.

The World Cup season starts in Lake Placid in December, with Europa Cup, North America Cup and Intercontinental Cup events held in November. The world championships are in Winterberg, Germany, in February/March 2015.

Four-man bobsleigh adds two crew to the brakeman and pilot that make up a two-man team and features heavier sleds, which are also faster and harder to turn.

Women have competed in pairs only since the early 1990s, with women's bobsleigh added to the Olympic program as a full medal sport from the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

However, four-woman demonstration events have been held in North America, where woman have campaigned for the right to join the men.   Continued...

Russia's pilot Alexander Zubkov and and his team mates celebrate finishing first during the four-man bobsleigh event of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games at the Sanki Sliding Center in Rosa Khutor February 23, 2014.  REUTERS/Murad Sezer