How Bobsledding Became a Black Winter Sport

Five of the six Olympic women bobsledders are African American, as former track stars take over the sleds.

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Words like “leadership” and “technical” take on a little more weight when they mean steering more than 700 pounds of sled and bodies at speeds reaching more than 100 miles per hour. The slightest deviation from the right path can be the difference between an Olympic medal and an Olympic footnote (and a greater deviation can result in a far more serious problem).

Olympic success has traditionally been measured almost exclusively in medals, and the U.S. women bobsledders have a shot at winning one or even two of those precious keepsakes. But sometimes victory can be claimed long before a race is run. And this American women’s bobsled team already has victory written all over it.

Mark Starr, a former national sports correspondent for Newsweek magazine, has covered 11 consecutive Olympics, including six Winter Games.