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Bobsleigh at the 1976 Innsbruck Winter Games

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Host City: Innsbruck, Austria
Date Started: February 6, 1976
Date Finished: February 14, 1976
Events: 2

Participants: 92 (92 men and 0 women) from 13 countries
Youngest Participant: AUT Gerd Zaunschirm (20 years, 364 days)
Oldest Participant: SWE Carl-Erik Eriksson (45 years, 269 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 6 athletes with 2 medals
Most Medals (Country): 3 countries with 2 medals


The cost of building a bobsleigh track was one of the reasons put forward as to why the residents of Colorado rejected a funding package to enable the city of Denver to host the 1976 Winter Games. With the withdrawal of the American city as host the Games returned to Austria and the Innsbruck track that hosted the Games only twelve years earlier.

The track, which for the first time held both luge and bobsleigh, was 1220 m in length, had 14 curves and an average gradient of 8.5 %. The use of the track for both sports was not universally popular with many complaining that the track did not retain sufficient difficulty for an Olympic track. One member of the British delegation was reported to comment that the IOC had turned bobsleigh into “A sport for pansies”.

During the competitions, which were exclusively held in the afternoons, air temperature did not drop below 0°C.

The big story of 1976 was the emergence of the German Democratic Republic as a leading force in the world of bobsleigh, a position it would cling to until the country’s eventual demise. Armed with a naturally talented driver in the converted javelin thrower [Meinhard Nehmer] and the best sports science that the DDR could provide the East German program moved from nowhere to the best in the world in just three years.