Of all the films that depict the Olympic Games, Cool Runnings is perhaps the most recognisable. It is a fictionalised account of the first ever Jamaican bobsleigh team. This occurred at the 1988 Winter Olympics which was hosted in Canada. The film was released five years later to positive reviews. It is now considered a classic comedy and sports movie which is regularly discovered by new viewers.
In this film, the Jamaican team suffers a mechanical failure on their sledge. Their left blade becomes loose, and they end up losing control and crashing. This happened in real life during their final run. The film utilised footage of the actual crash in order to create a sense of realism. As the team walk away from the crash, they are met with spontaneous applause. Cool Runnings has a bittersweet ending. While Jamaica failed, they were still commended for their efforts.
Despite depicting a loosely true event, this film contains numerous elements which are not historically accurate. The vast majority of the characters are fictional. This includes the members of the Jamaican team. The American trainer Irving played by John Candy did not exist. In reality, there were several trainers involved in the team’s formation.
In Cool Runnings, the members of the Jamaican team are made up of sprinters who were unable to qualify for the 1988 Summer Olympics. However, the trials for the Summer event would have actually taken place the following year after the Winter Games.
In Cool Runnings there is a fictitious governing body called the International Alliance of Winter Sports. They oversee all sports for the Winter Olympics. However, in reality, every sport for this event has its own governing body. Bobsleighing would have fallen under the jurisdiction of an organisation called the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation.