TRINIDAD AND Tobago men’s bobsleigh team begin their 2022 Winter Olympic Games campaign at the Yanqing National Sliding Centre in Beijing, China, from 8.05 am (TT time) on Monday.
The two-man team of pilot Axel Brown and brakeman Andre Marcano hit the icy track, for the first of three slides, in 29th position of the 30 competing nations. National teams will compete in order of their International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) rankings.
Monaco begins the event, followed by Russia Olympic Committee and Netherlands respectively, while Jamaica, ranked 30th of the competing nations, completes the list.
After all nations execute their opening slide, the second round, which gets under way from 9.40 am (TT time), will be led off by the slowest first round finishers to the fastest.
The third slide starts on Tuesday from 8.15 am (TT time).
After this stage, the three race times for each nation will be tallied together. Only the top 20 accumulated times/nations advance to the medal round.
Here, each of the 20 nations is allowed one slide down the tricky track. The times recorded on this fourth and final slide determine the official results. This decisive begins at 9.50 am (TT time) on Tuesday.
When TT were confirmed to feature at the Winter Games one month ago, pilot Brown said the team’s aim is to at least, secure a spot among the final 20 nations.
Last week, TT conducted six test runs down the 1,600-metre track. Their fastest time – one minute and 1.35 seconds (1:01.35) – was achieved on the fifth attempt while their slowest (1:02.52), came on the first try.
TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis arrived in Beijing on Sunday morning and said the team is upbeat ahead of their Olympic debut.
This is the first time in 20 years TT will be featured at the Games, in men’s bobsleigh. TT qualified for this event only, three times prior, in 1994, 1998 and 2002.
Lewis said, “The team is in good spirits and looking forward to the competitive return of Team TTO after 20 years away from the Winter Olympics. It’s about managing expectations.
“Getting in the top 20, which by no stretch of the imagination; is a simple or easy task. That’s the immediate target. If we get into the top 20, it will be a huge achievement for TT on return after two decades.”
However, on Sunday, the China Meteorological Administration issued a blizzard warning saying significant snowfall is expected in large parts of northern China, including Beijing, the capital and current site of the Winter Olympics.
Chinese authorities issued a blue blizzard warning, the lowest of the country's four-tiered alerts, with some regions forecast to receive up to 4 centimetres (1.6 inches) of snow.
On Beijing’s extreme temperature drop ahead of the Caribbean team’s return, Lewis believes Brown and Marcano should be able to hold their own since the former is based in Great Britain and the latter, in the United States.
“It’s extremely cold. It’s forecasted to be -14 degrees celcius in Yanqing. Even those people who are accustomed going to a winter environment, they are saying it’s very cold.
“Axel Brown should have fewer issues than Andre Marcano, but he (Marcano) has also been based in New York. So they may have less challenges dealing with the cold as compared to Shakeel John (alternate).
“You have to prepare mentally, emotionally and physically for these conditions,” he closed.
TT’s contingent at the Games is made up of Brown, Marcano, John, team official Thomas Harris, chef de mission Lovie Santana and covid19 liaison officer Rheeza Grant.
The Yanqing National Sliding Centre track is the first of its kind in the world and includes a 360 degree turn. It has a gradient of 18 per cent and 16 curves. It’s also known as “The Flying Snow Dragon”.