ATLANTA — There's a new Winter Olympic sport making its debut Saturday night and it is showing off some incredible girl power.
Athletes will compete in the monobob event for the first time at the 2022 Beijing Games as one of the seven new sporting events added to the Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee decided it will be a women-only event, adding a sport that female bobsledders can qualify for.
According to Olympic data, women athletes make up 45% of participants at the Beijing Games, the highest percentage in history. However, the IOC has a goal of raising that percentage and having an even split between men and women athletes by the Paris Summer Games.
Monobob can help close that gender gap.
As monobob paves the way for more women to participate in the international competition, it doesn't necessarily solve the gender disparity.
Historically, there had only been three bobsledding events at the Winter Olympics, the two-man and four-man sledding events, and the two-woman sledding event. Women weren't invited to participate in bobsledding competitions until the 2002 Winter Olympics, and 20 years later they now have their own sledding event.
The argument in favor of monobob is that it improves accessibility. Monobob is essentially one-woman bobsledding and the solo sled is smaller and cheaper than the two-person and four-person sleds.
Since it requires just one athlete, the sport gives an opportunity for countries that don't have a storied tradition in winter sports or a long roster of bobsledders to compete in the event and have another chance at winning a proud medal.
In this sport, competitors don't bring their own sleds. Instead, athletes will compete in standardized sleds twisting and sliding on the ice at speeds faster around 70 mph, and hopefully faster.
But this event only lets one woman medal, as opposed to offering a team win. One athlete has to be both the brake and pilot, making it more difficult to split up a bobsledding team because the skills are a little different.
Regardless, for the 2022 Games and monobob's Winter Olympics debut, Team USA has the top contenders.
Canadian-American Kallie Humphries is sledding for Team USA. Humphries represented Canada until 2020 and will be competing for the stars and stripes for the first time since recently becoming a U.S. citizen. The two-time Olympic and two-woman bobsled champion said she's ready to make Team USA proud.
Teammate and Georgia native Elana Meyers Taylor is also testing her skills at the monobob event. The bobsledding legend and one of the most decorated athletes in the discipline is hoping the monobob event is her chance to win a gold medal at a Winter Olympics.
The woman with the best cumulative time from four heats, or four rounds, will win the gold.