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Photo: IBSF
Opening weekend sees medals in two-man bobsleigh and team event

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Innsbruck (RWH)  The BMW IBSF World Championships Bob + Skeleton 2016 will be the sixth time Innsbruck has hosted the World Championships of the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation IBSF.The first two-man bobsleigh World Championships were staged here back in 1935, not on an artificial ice track but on existing, specially prepared roads which ended at the Patscherkofel valley railway station.Two separate artificial ice tracks were built ahead of the Olympic Winter Games in 1964 – one for the bobsleigh competitions and one for the lugers who were competing in the event for the first time.The bobsleigh track was the venue for the two-man and four-man World Championships in 1963.The separate tracks were decommissioned prior to the Winter Games in 1976 and replaced with the world’s first combined bobsleigh, luge and skeleton track equipped with the starting options required for each discipline.For the first time ever, all Olympic ice track competitions were held on the same track.The Olympics returned to Innsbruck in 2012, when the track hosted the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG).IBSF athletes competed in World Championships at the track in 1991 (men’s skeleton) and 1993 (two-man and four-man bobsleigh).Female skeleton sliders took to the track alongside the men for the first time at the World Championships in 2000.

The route to medals in the BMW IBSF World Championships Bob + Skeleton 2016 is just short of five kilometres in length.The athletes will take to the Olympic ice track in Innsbruck for four runs in each discipline, hurtling down the 1,200-metre track in an attempt to set the fastest time in their quest for a gold medal,with the quickest among them taking little more than 50 seconds to complete a run.

This makes the Innsbruck ice chute one of the shortest of the 15 tracks currently in use around the world.To set a good time, athletes will need an explosive and fast start, even more so than on other longer or more challenging tracks.After that, the track is generally regarded as easy to drive,which is why many top athletes from a large number of countries gained their first experience of bobsleigh steering ropes and skeleton sleds on one of the regular courses run at the track by the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation IBSF.But all the experts agree that setting a quick time and finding the perfect line will be a real art form at this year’s World Championships.

The BMW IBSF Bobsleigh & Skeleton World Championships 2016 are the first ever joint World Championships featuring all IBSF athletes in Innsbruck.Spectators can expect to enjoy more World Championship competitions than ever before on the Olympic ice track.The agenda for the first weekend offers four races in the disciplines of women’s bobsleigh and two-man bobsleighand is rounded off with the team competition on Sunday afternoon.©RWH2015-2016

The timetable for the first World Championship week in Innsbruck
Date/time CET

Race

Friday, 12 February

4.45 pm

6.15 pm

Bobsleigh women, run 1

Bobsleigh women, run 2

Saturday, 13 February

9.30 am

11.15 am

Bobsleigh men, run 1

Bobsleigh men, run 2

Saturday, 13 February

3.00 pm

4.30 pm

Bobsleigh women, run 3

Bobsleigh women, run 4

Sunday, 14 February

9.30 am

11.30 am

Bobsleigh men, run 3

Bobsleigh men, run 4

Sunday, 14 February 3.00 pm



Team event



Outlook on women’s bobsleigh: Local hero Christina Hengster among the favourites
Innsbruck (RWH)  In Austria, bobsleigh pilot Christina Hengster is the face of the BMW IBSF World Championships Bob + Skeleton 2016 in Innsbruck.She and her skeleton teammate Janine Flock stare competitively from the posters that have been decorating the Tirolean capital for weeks now to advertise the races being held on the Olympic ice track at the foot of the Patscherkofel.

The experienced athlete has raced her best ever season so far in the 2015/2016 World Cup, with four podium finishes – third in Altenberg (GER), Lake Placid (USA) and Whistler (CAN) and second in Park City (USA) – in the first seven races, leaving her in third place overall.In Park City, Hengster missed the very first World Cup victory for Austria in the women’s bobsleigh when she finished just four hundredths of a second behind Kaillie Humphries of Canada. She also only narrowly missed her first ever European Championship medal with a fourth in St Moritz (SUI).Christina Hengster brings not only a home advantage but also a wealth of experience on the Innsbruck track to the World Championships, and she could well both enjoy the race of her life and crown her season this weekend.

The US teams are also looking good for medals in view of their form so far in the BMW IBSF World Cup 2015/2016.Yet the paths taken by pilots Jamie Greubel Poser and Elana Meyers Taylor en route to the World Championships could not have been more different.Jamie Greubel Poser, who came third at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, has made it onto the podium in six of the seven World Cup races so far this season.The 32-year-old pilot, who is married to German backseat bobsledder Christian Poser, came third in Altenberg, Königssee and Whistler, second in Park City and celebrated the second and third World Cup victories of her career in Winterberg (GER) and on home ice in Lake Placid.Her first ever World Cup victory was in the 2013/2014 season, when in January 2014 she won the race on the Innsbruck track hosting the World Championships this weekend.

By contrast, teammate Elana Meyers Taylor, who came second in the Sochi Olympics and is the defending World Champion, was still struggling with the side effects of concussion early in the season.After ranking eighth in Altenberg and second in Winterberg, the 31-year-old pilot elected not to compete in the BMW IBSF World Cups in Königssee and North America.After a rehabilitative treatment regime and appearances in the European Cup, where last year’s overall World Cup winner collected two victories, one of which was in Innsbruck, Elana Meyers Taylor crowned her return to the BMW IBSF World Cup in St Moritz last weekend with her first victory of the season.

Another bobsledder to watch out for at the BMW IBSF World Championships in Innsbruck is, as ever, Kaillie Humphries of Canada.Humphries, who won the Olympics in Vancouver (CAN) in 2010 and Sochi (RUS) in 2014, already has two World Championship titles to her name (2012 in Lake Placid, USA, and 2013 in St Moritz, SUI) and currently heads the field in the BMW IBSF World Cup rankings with four victories, as well as a second in Lake Placid and third places in Winterberg and St Moritz.

Anja Schneiderheinze of Germany returned to the podium last weekend, celebrating her first win of the season in St Moritz and defending her European Championship title at the same time. Last year’s World Championship runner-up is in good form for the World Championship weekend in Innsbruck.Junior World Champion Stephanie Schneider, also of Germany, collected a surprise bronze medal in the European Championships in her debut World Cup race at the helm of the bobsleigh.

As for Christina Hengster,she practised celebrating a few days prior to her home World Championships,when she turned 30 on 4 February.Before the season started, the bobsleigh pilot invested in new equipment with an eye to the winter’s highlight.She spontaneously christened her new sled “Betsy the Beast” and moved into the World Cup in fighting spirit.“I’m in love!” she posted on her Facebook page in September 2015 after receiving the brand new sled.Her love of Betsy the Beast can only have grown as she prepares for the BMW IBSF World Cup Bob + Skeleton in Innsbruck.@RWH2015-2016


Outlook on two-man bobsleigh:Favourites from Germany, Latvia, Korea, USA and Switzerland
Innsbruck (RWH)  The two-man bobsleigh races in the BMW IBSF World Championships 2016 in Innsbruck promise a lot of excitement,with five winners from four nations already making the World Cup podium this seasonThe hot favourites for the World Championships are the two-man teams from Germany, Latvia and Korea, in particular defending champion Francesco Friedrich (GER), runner-up Oskars Melbardis (LAT) and the current leader of the World Cup standings, Yunjong Won (KOR).

Before he won the World Championship in Winterberg last year, Francesco Friedrich had already taken gold in St. Moritz (SUI) in 2013 to become the youngest two-man bobsleigh World Champion of all time at 22 years and 270 days.Friedrich started the 2015/2016 season with three victories in as many World Cup races, but strained a thigh muscle in Whistler (CAN).

Latvian slider Oskars Melbardis finished second behind Francesco Friedrich at both the European and World Championships last year, but came out as overall winner of the World Cup.Melbardis, who took fifth at the Olympics, also finished second behind winner Friedrich in the first three races of the BMW IBSF World Cup 2015/2016, but has been hampered by an old slipped disc injury and severe back problems since the start of 2016and missed the World Cup event in Lake Placid (USA). But in Whistler he finished close to the podium again at rank five and four.“Any chance of defending his overall World Cup title is gone”, said Latvia’s head coach Sandis Prusis.“But we’re concentrating on the World Championships now.”

It is also worth keeping an eye on Korean bobsleigh pilot Yonjong Won in the two-man event at the World Championships in Innsbruck.Paired with brakeman Youngwoo Seo, the 30-year-old athlete took third at the opening BMW IBSF World Cup in Altenberg (GER) to become the first bobsleigh athlete from Korea to achieve a podium finish.The duo from the country that is set to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang repeated their success in Winterberg (GER) and Lake Placid (USA), and crowned a successful first half of the season in Whistler (CAN) with the first ever World Cup victory for Korea and leadership in the overall rankings.

US bobsleigh pilot Steven Holcomb proved in Lake Placid and St Moritz that former champions should never be discounted.The 35-year-old, who won the overall World Cup in the two-man bobsleigh for the first time back in 2007 before going on to claim the World Championship title in 2012, took his first World Cup victory in two years in Lake Placid at the beginning of the year.Beat Hefti from Switzerland, who celebrated his 38th birthday in early February just a few days before the BMW IBSF World Championships 2016 in Innsbruck, was World Championship runner-up in 2013 and won Olympic silver in Sochi in 2014.Following a raft of injury worries among his team of brakemen, Hefti switched from the World Cup to the European Cup at the start of the yearand after two second places – one of which was in Innsbruck – he made an impressive comeback to the BMW IBSF World Cup in St Moritz with victory and his fourth European Championship title, a sure way of being included in the list of favourites for the World Championships.

Austria’s World Championship medal haul in the two-man bobsleigh currently stands at one gold, one silver and three bronzes.At the inaugural race in 1931, Heinz Volkmer collected bronze, while Paul Aste drove to silver in 1955 and bronze in 1958.In 1967, Erwin Thaler won Austria’s sole two-man bobsleigh World Championship title to date in Alpe d’Huez (FRA).Austria’s last medal in the two-man event was awarded 45 years ago, when Herbert Gruber took bronze in Cervinia (ITA) in 1971.

The most experienced pilot in the Austrian squad is currently Benjamin Maier.Born in1994, Maier is only 21 years old: under the statutes of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation IBSF, bobsleigh athletes may compete as juniors until the age of 26.Maier, born in Hall in Tirol, some 10 km from Innsbruck, enjoyed his greatest success to date on his home trackback in 2012, when the 1,478-metre ice track at the foot of the Patscherkofel above Innsbruck hosted the bobsleigh competition at the first Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG).Just 17 years old at the time, he won Olympic silver with brakeman Robert Ofensberger behind gold medallists Patrick Baumgartner and Alessandro Grande of Italy.@RWH2015-2016

Outlook on team competition:Germany hot favourite, Austria with no team medal to date
Innsbruck (RWH)  The team competition has been held seven times so far in the bobsleigh and skeleton World Championships.In five of those races (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2015), gold went to a team from Germany.The US team played its part in Lake Placid (USA) in 2012 and St Moritz (SUI) in 2013.In the team competition, each of the national teams is composed of a women’s and men’s two-man bobsleigh team and a male and female skeleton athlete.The times from each run are added up, and the victory goes to the team with the best overall time.Germany holds the record in the team event with a total of nine medals (five golds, and silver in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015).The remaining team medals are divided between the USA (two golds, one silver, two bronzes), Canada (one silver and three bronzes), Switzerland (one silver and one bronze), and Russia (one bronze).This year’s World Championship host Austria has not yet appeared on the team podium.The closest it came was when the Austrian team comprising pilots Benjamin Maier and Christina Hengster in the bobsleigh and Matthias Guggenberger and Janine Flock in the skeleton slid to rank six in Winterberg last year.©RWH2015-2016



Keep up to date with bobsleigh and skeleton news on Facebook, Twitter & co.
Königssee (RWH)  The latest news, detailed start lists, race results and a wealth of photos, videos and other information about the BMW IBSF World Championships Bob + Skeleton 2016 in Innsbruck will once again be available this season via a variety of social media channels.The International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation IBSF maintains its own site on Facebook, and all news is posted straight to the profile pages of the over 2,100 members of the IBSF Facebook group and also sent to Twitter followers (@IBSFsliding), of which there are over 2,600.

A live ticker for all World Championship races, as well as results lists showing all race times and overall times and the latest World Cup standings can also be found after every race at ibsf.org.Many countries throughout the world are showing TV coverage of the BMW IBSF World Championships,and in addition, ibsf.organd the IBSF YouTube channelwww.youtube.com/user/bobskeletvare presenting all races live with commentary by Martin Haven and John Morgan.The live stream is available in almost every country in the world©RWH2015-2016


The defending World Champions (BMW IBSF World Championships 2015 in Winterberg, GER)
Grafik Titelverteidiger E


BMW IBSF World Cup 2015/2016: winners in women’s bobsleigh
Saisonsieger Bob Frauen

BMW IBSF World Cup 2015/2016: winners in two-man bobsleigh
Saisonsieger Zweierbob Männer

World Championship statistics: Team event
WM Statistik team

World Championship statistics: Women’s bobsleigh
WM Statistik Bob Frauen

World Championship statistics: two-man bobsleigh (part 1)
WM Statistik Zweierbob Männer 1

World Championship statistics: two-man bobsleigh (part 2)
WM Statistik Zweierbob Männer 2






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