Bauhaus FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Championships in St Moritz

Second weekend showcases skeleton and four-man bobsleigh

St Moritz (RWH) The first weekend in the Bauhaus FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Championships in St Moritz (SUI) is already behind us. A clear blue sky and icy temperatures formed the backdrop against which thousands of enthusiastic spectators cheered for the World Champions and other medallists in the women’s bobsleigh, two-man bobsleigh and the team competition at the Olympia Bob Run St Moritz-Celerina. This year’s World Champions are Kaillie Humphries and Chelsea Valois of Canada in the women’s bobsleigh, and Francesco Friedrich and Jannis Bäcker of Germany in the two-man bobsleigh. Gold in the team event went to the USA. And the Swiss hosts were given something special to celebrate when Beat Hefti and Thomas Lamparter won silver in the two-man bobsleigh. This weekend, the Bauhaus FIBT World Championships turn to the men’s and women’s skeleton competitions, and the four-man bobsleigh.

This is the fifth time that St Moritz has hosted the World Championships in the men’s skeleton. The ice track in Switzerland’s Engadin region saw the very first skeleton World Championships in 1982, when the title went to Gert Elsässer of Austria. In 1989 the champion was Alain Wicki of Switzerland, and in 1998 Willy Schneider of Germany. The last championships in St Moritz were held in 2007, and here Gregor Stähli won gold for the Swiss host, the second time that he had won the title. The women skeleton sliders also took part in the championships in 2007, with gold for Noelle Pikus-Pace of the USA, an athlete celebrating her comeback season this winter.

Athletes from 34 nations (ARG, AUS, AUT, BEL, CAN, CRO, CZE, ESP, FRA, GBR, GER, GRE, IRL, ISR, ISV, ITA, JPN, KOR, LAT, LIE, MEX, MON, NED, NZL, POL, ROU, RSA, RUS, SLO, SRB, SUI, SVK, UKR, USA) will be competing in the second World Championship weekend, with 29 women and 34 men racing for gold in the skeleton, and 37 four-man bobsleigh teams up there at the start.

The timetable for the second weekend in St Moritz

Date Time

Race

Women’s skeleton, 1st run Women’s skeleton, 2nd run

Women’s skeleton, 3rd run

Women’s skeleton, 4th run (final)

Men’s skeleton, 1st run Men’s skeleton, 2nd run

Men’s 4-man bobsleigh, 1st run Men’s 4-man bobsleigh, 2nd run

Men’s skeleton, 3rd run

Men’s skeleton, 4th run (final)

Men’s 4-man bobsleigh, 3rd run

Men’s 4-man bobsleigh, 4th run (final)

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Friday, 1 February 2013

Friday, 1 February 2013

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Saturday, 2 February 2013

9.00 am 10.45 am

9.00 am

10.45 am

1.00 pm 2.45 pm

8.45 am 10.45 am

1.15 pm

3.00 pm

 Sunday, 3 February 2013 10.00 am

11.45 am

Redaktionsbüro Wolfgang Harder (RWH) Windscheidstr. 6
D- 10627 Berlin
Tel.: (+49) 173 – 60 733 52

eMail: wolfgang.harder@t-online.de

FIBT Fédération Internationale
de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing Maison du Sport – Avenue de Rhodanie 54
CH – 1007 Lausanne
Tel.: +49 171 358 2990

Outlook on women’s skeleton World Championships: exciting competition with a wide field of candidates

St Moritz (RWH) The four runs in the women’s skeleton at the Bauhaus FIBT World Championships in St Moritz promise to be highly exciting. Ten athletes from five nations (CAN, GBR, GER, RUS, USA) have stood on the World Cup podium this winter, and six different racers (Marion Thees of Germany, Sarah Reid of Canada, Katie Uhlaender of the USA, Shelley Rudman of Great Britain, Noelle Pikus-Pace of the USA und Elena Nikitina of Russia) came in first. The list of candidates for medals in St Moritz is correspondingly long, particularly since surprises such as Junior World Champion Elena Nikitina’s victory in the World Cup and European Championships in Igls might well be the order of the day.

The most successful skeleton slider of the moment, Marion Thees of Germany, is certainly among the favourites to win the championships after two victories and a total of five podium finishes this winter. The 2009 and 2011 World Champion only came 18th in her last race in Igls and is likely to be fuelled by a healthy dose of ambition this weekend.

A win for defending champion Katie Uhlaender, who has also won two races so far this winter, would make her the most successful athlete ever in the women’s skeleton World Championships with two golds, a silver and a bronze medal. This title is currently held by a Swiss athlete, Maya Bieri-Pedersen, who took gold at the 2001 and 2005 World Championships, and silver at the last championships held in St Moritz in 2007. But the current Swiss champion Marina Gilardoni is unlikely to be in with a chance of a medal in the 2013 World Championships, as the 25-year-old’s best result to date in a World Cup was fourteenth. But maybe her record-breaking starts in St Moritz (5.26 seconds) and La Plagne, France (6.34 seconds) and her experience racing down her home track will be what’s needed to help her to a surprise finish.

Outlook on men’s skeleton World Championships: no avoiding Martins Dukurs of Latvia in the run for gold

St Moritz (RWH) Skeleton slider Martins Dukurs is unlikely to be on the sidelines when the gold medal is presented at the Bauhaus FIBT World Championships in St Moritz. The 28-year-old Latvian has already come first in the overall World Cup three times (2010, 2011, 2012), is four-times European Champion (2010 to 2013), and also won the last two World Championships. His third gold medal would put him on a par with the most successful slider in the history of skeleton where the title is concerned. Switzerland’s Gregor Stähli has three gold medals, one of which he won at the last World Championships in St Moritz in 2007, three silvers and two bronzes to his name, and is likely to be rather satisfied at the way Dukurs is chipping at his title: the speedy slider is a member of the Sika Race Team Skeleton (SRTS), which is coached by Stähli.

Only one person has been able to keep Martins Dukurs from the top position on the podium in the last two years: Frank Rommel of Germany, who came second in the 2012 World Championships, and won the Königssee (GER) World Cup last year and the Whistler (CAN) competition this winter. A victory for Rommel in St Moritz would be the third gold for Germany in 23 years of men’s skeleton World Championships, and the first in thirteen years: in 2000, Andy Böhme won the title, and two years before that Willy Schneider, who now coaches Russia, came first in St Moritz.

The most successful nations in the fight for medals in the sport of skeleton together are Austria with five gold medals and this year’s host Switzerland, with three golds for Gregor Stähli (1994, 2007, 2009), one for Jürg Wenger (1995) and one for Alain Wicki (1989). But a medal for Switzerland in this year’s Bauhaus FIBT World Championships would be quite a surprise: the two skeleton sliders representing the country, Lukas Kummer and Michael Höfer, haven’t yet made it into the top ten in their World Cup races.

Outlook on four-man bobsleigh World Championships: strong competition in the ultimate sliding sport

St Moritz (RWH) In view of the speed and the strength required, it’s not surprising that the four-man bobsleigh is considered the Formula 1 of winter sports. The 2013 Bauhaus FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Championships close with the fight for gold, silver and bronze in the four-seater. And there’s plenty of competition for the title: Steven Holcomb comes to the event as Olympic Champion and defending World Champion, and has his sights set on gold in the four-man bobsleigh after a World Cup winter without victory and only a fourth in the two-man World Championships. The German teams are also likely candidates for medals, first and foremost Maximilian Arndt, who came second in last year’s World Championships and is leading the field in the 2012/2013 World Cup season. Fellow German Thomas Florschütz, who finished with a bronze in the two-man championship, is hoping for his first title after a whole string of silver medals, but will have to do without star brakeman Kevin Kuske. Kuske, who won the Olympics twice and the World Championships four times in the back of André Lange’s four-seater, suffered a hamstring injury in the second two-man run last weekend.

Another title favourite in the four-seater is former champion Alexsandr Zubkov of Russia, who won the overall World Cup in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2012, can boast two silvers and one bronze in the four-man World Championships to date, and comes to St Moritz with five World Cup season victories under his belt. The Swiss hosts, one of the most successful four-man bobsleigh nations ever with 21 World Championship and Olympic gold medals since 1924, are pinning their hopes on Beat Hefti, no stranger to winning four-man races in St Moritz: in 2007 he collected World Championship gold pushing the sleigh driven by Ivo Rüegg. And finally, do we have a personal favourite for the medals? John James Jackson of Great Britain, perhaps, who’s driven his most successful season to date in the four- seater, and came close to a medal with a fifth in the Whistler World Cup. Britain has collected one silver medal and two golds in the four-man bobsleigh over the years, but the country’s last medal in the discipline was 74 years ago, when Frederic McEvoy, the 1937 and 1938 World Champion, won silver in Cortina d’Ampezzo (ITA) in 1939.

The defending World Champions from Lake Placid in February 2012

Gold                                                               Silver                                                                   Bronze

Women’s skeleton Katie UHLAENDER (USA)                   Mellisa HOLLINGSWORTH CAN             Elizabeth YARNOLD GBR

Men’s skeleton       Martins DUKURS (LAT)                        Frank ROMMEL GER                                    Ben SANDFORD NZL

 

On the sidelines

Ivan Sola (CRO) is the oldest athlete competing at the Bauhaus FIBT World Championships in St Moritz. The 51- year-old Croatian, who entered the sliding sports in 1999, is an all-round talent who personifies his country’s bobsleigh sports in his multiple roles as association president, equipment manager, marketing director and athlete, as he told the newspaper Berliner Zeitung in December 2011. Back in the 1980s, Sola was a motorcycle racer and won several Croatian national championships. Born in the port of Split, sailing and speedboating were logical alternatives, and the Croatian athlete also competed in several motor racing series. Sola was infected with the bobsleigh virus during a winter holiday spent in Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1999, and Prince Albert of Monaco, at the time still an active athlete, took him under his wing in Innsbruck. Despite the scepticism of his fellow Croatians, Sola qualified for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City (USA) and even founded a bobsleigh club and association beforehand so as to comply with the rules of the Croatian National Olympic Committee. He also competed in the 2006 Olympics in Turin (ITA) and the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver (CAN), coming in the top 20 in Whistler. “All of Croatia spent the night in front of the TV. For me, that was like a gold medal,” said Sola to the Berliner Zeitung. Ivan Sola hopes to compete in his fourth Olympics in Sochi in 2014, and maybe to carry the Croatian flag into the stadium during the opening ceremony for the fourth time, too. He would then be 52 and the oldest ever competitor in a Winter Olympics. This title is currently held by the USA’s Scott Baird, who won the bronze medal in curling as a substitute at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics at the age of 54. But first, the four-man bobsleigh team from Croatia has a World Championship to race in in St Moritz. Coming in the top 20 here, too, would be as good as a gold medal for the Croatian racer. (RWH)

Elana Meyers (USA) has more than one reason to celebrate after the women’s bobsleigh race at the Bauhaus FIBT World Championships. Meyers, who came third pushing Erin Pac at the 2010 Winter Olympics and won bronze as a bobsleigh pilot at the 2012 World Championships, celebrated her best ever result in a World Championship race when she won silver with Katie Eberling in St Moritz. And then during the award ceremony her partner Nicolas Taylor went down on one knee before the podium and, to the delight of spectators and athletes alike, asked her to marry him. “Silver medal and an engagement?!? Awesome day”, the athlete twittered later that day. The couple will be able to spend plenty of time together the rest of the season: Nicolas Taylor is brakeman on the US bobsleigh team and came third in the Igls team World Cup pushing Olympic Champion Steven Holcomb. (RWH)

The FIBT app brings the World Championships to smartphone or tablet

St Moritz (RWH) A dedicated app allows fans to watch the Bauhaus FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Championships live from almost anywhere. Digotel Live+ for live video streaming and Video On Demand can be downloaded free of charge from www.fibt.com, the official website of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation FIBT (Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing), transforming smartphone, tablet, or a TV hooked up to the internet into a virtual grandstand for each of the races in the Bauhaus FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Championships in St Moritz. All of the World Championship runs will also be shown live and can be watched as recordings on the FIBT YouTube Channel. Licensing laws unfortunately prohibit all live services in Germany, Russia, the UK, Ireland, Canada, France and Italy. The latest results and reports on the Bauhaus FIBT World Championships in St Moritz can, of course, also be accessed on the FIBT website (www.fibt.com), Facebook (www.facebook.com/pages/IBSF-International-Bobsleigh-Skeleton-Federation/128374647314728) and via Twitter (www.twitter.com/FIBT).