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Bobsleigh at the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Games

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Host City: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Date Started: February 11, 1936
Date Finished: February 15, 1936
Events: 2

Participants: 95 (95 men and 0 women) from 13 countries
Youngest Participant: LIE Eugen Büchel (19 years, 190 days)
Oldest Participant: USA Hubert Stevens (45 years, 340 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): SUI Joseph Beerli and SUI Fritz Feierabend (2 medals)
Most Medals (Country): SUI Switzerland (3 medals)


Garmisch had sported a bobsleigh course since the early 20th century, and the 1934 World Championships (4-man) had taken place on a course on the Rießerkopf mountain, which finished near the shores of the Rießersee (a lake), the scene of the figure and speed skating competitions at the 1936 Olympics. This track was modernised for the Olympics with the help of Stanislaus Zentzytzki, who had also designed the 1932 Olympics run in Lake Placid. The track measured 1525 m in length, and had 13 curves. The start was located at 920 m above see level, and the finish line 129 m lower, making for an average descent of 8,46%.

The ice for the course was cut out of the Rießersee in bricks, and placed on the track and frozen together using cooled oxygen. However, the ice proved of poor quality, and slivered rather easily. Still, the course was rather good by 1936 standards. The competitions were somewhat hampered by sunny weather, which meant that races had to be held in the early morning or late afternoon to prevent the crews from driving on a melting course.

In 1936, the sleds were still very much in development. For example, unlike modern bobsleighs, there were two common steering mechanisms. The winner of the two-man event had a sled with a steering wheel (like in a car), while the four-man champions used cables to steer, which is the technique used today.