During the winter Olympics, I notice that there is a bobsled event with two men per sled as well as a bobsled event with four men per sled.

Are there strategical differences between two-man and four-man bobsled? If so, what are they? I would imagine navigating the track would be slightly different due to less/extra weight.

3 Answers 3


Here is a great article regarding this subject

The most critical part of a bobsled run is its start. Teams focus on explosive starts because momentum at that point strongly affects the sled’s speed throughout the course. Saving one-tenth of a second during the start often translates to saving one-third of a second on the run as a whole.

To set the bobsled in motion, team members sprint while pushing the sled forward. They run for about 50 m (164 ft) and then leap into the sled just before the first turn, assuming streamlined positions for the remainder of the run. The driver occupies the front position and steers the sled. The brakeman, in the rear position, operates the brake. On a four-man bobsled the two middle sledders contribute mostly during the start, although they also shift their weight during turns. On the course, drivers try to steer through the turns smoothly and to prevent the sled from skidding into the walls. The greatest challenge is to maintain a tight line on the banked curves, not allowing the sled to drift high up the turn. After the finish, the brakeman pulls up on the brake to stop the sled.

The basic techniques used in two-man and four-man bobsledding are the same, but because four-man sleds have two extra sledders, they are faster. They gain power from the extra push provided by the middle sledders at the start, the sledders’ additional weight, and the increased weight of a larger sled. The increased speed and weight make four-man sleds harder to steer than two-man sleds.

Bobsled competitions involve training runs and two or four heats, with the lowest combined time winning. Racers often use the training runs to experiment with different strategies.


The weight of the sled has no impact on the speed. All objects fall towards earth at exactly the same acceleration due to gravity (assuming similar aerodynamics). However, weight does effect the ability to steer the sled through the course. Some commentators have stated that the four man sled is slightly easier to maintain a straight line through the course (I would speculate that was due to inertia), which translates into less contact with the sides, which means less friction and loss of momentum on the way down.


Here is another article that provides some additional content (http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/outdoor-activities/snow-sports/bobsled2.htm) -

To add to the answer below, another difference has to do with the weight of the sled.

Each type of bob [sled] has a minimum weight when empty and a maximum weight with bobsledders and their equipment.

Weight limits for bobsleds are: Two-man: minimum 384 pounds (170 kilograms) when empty, maximum 860 pounds (390 kilograms) with crew and equipment.

Two-woman: minimum 284 pounds (129 kilograms) when empty, maximum 750 pounds (340 kilograms) with crew and equipment

Four-man: minimum 463 pounds (210 kilograms) when empty, maximum 1,389 pounds (630 kilograms) with crew and equipment

Heavier sleds go faster, so teams that do not reach the maximum occupied weight may add ballast to make their bob heavier. Officials weigh the sleds at the end of the run to make sure they meet the weight requirement.


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