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Innsbruck (RWH) The first World Championship weekend in Innsbruck is already history.Over 3,000 spectators from all over the world flocked to the Olympic ice track above Innsbruck in bright sunshine, providing an inspiring backdrop to the races.
Medals have already been awarded in three disciplines at the BMW IBSF World Championships.The female bobsledders were the first recipients,with gold for the German pairing of Anja Schneiderheinze/Annika Drazek, silver for Olympic Champion Kaillie Humphries of Canada with Melissa Lotholz, and bronze for defending World Champion Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs of the USA.Local athletes Christina Hengster/Sanne Dekker, who crashed during the first run down the Innsbruck track, moved up three places in the following three runs to finish sixth and earn a place in the victory ceremony in Innsbruck’s historic town centre.
Austria’s bobsleigh team also did surprisingly well in the two-man event, with Benjamin Maier and Markus Sammermaking it into the top ten for the first time in a World Championship with a ninth place in a race that saw Francesco Friedrich (GER) in first, followed by Johannes Lochner (GER) and Beat Hefti (SUI).
The home team then went on to collect its first medal at the BMW IBSF World Championships 2016 with bronzein the team event for Matthias Guggenberger, Christina Hengster/Sanne Dekker, Janine Flock and Benjamin Maier/Danut Moldovan.
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 second weekend offers four runs each in the disciplines of women’s and men’s skeletonand is rounded off with the four-man bobsleigh on Sunday afternoon.The Sunday will also see a world premierewhen, for the first time in the history of the IBSF, four-seater bobsleighs manned only by women compete in a test race.©RWH2015-2016
The timetable for the second World Championship week in Innsbruck
|Thursday, 18 February
|Skeleton men, run 1
Skeleton men, run 2
|Friday, 19 February
|Skeleton women, run 1
Skeleton women, run 2
|Friday, 19 February
|Skeleton men, run 3
Skeleton men, run 4
|Saturday, 20 February
|Skeleton women, run 3
Skeleton women, run 4
|Saturday, 20 February
|Four-man bobsleigh, run 1
Four-man bobsleigh, run 2
|Sunday, 21 February
||Four-woman bobsleigh, test race
|Sunday, 21 February
|Four-man bobsleigh, run 3
Four-man bobsleigh, run 4
Outlook on men’s skeleton World Championships: Favourites come from Latvia, Russia and Korea
Austrian sliders hope to use home advantage to return to former World Championship success
Innsbruck (RWH) The second week of the BMW IBSF World Championships in Innsbruck opens with the men’s skeleton. On 18 and 19 February, the athletes will battle it out for gold, silver and bronze medals over four heats. The top favourites are defending World Champion Martins Dukurs of Latvia and Olympic Champion Alexander Tretyakov from Russia. Martins Dukurs, World Champion in 2011, 2012 and 2015, clinched his 40th World Cup victory at the BMW IBSF World Cup in Königssee at the end of 2015, and has won six of the seven races in the 2015/2016 season so far. As so often, his brother Tomass Dukurs, who is currently third in the overall World Cup rankings, can be considered one of his keenest rivals. The second run down the 2010 Olympic track in Whistler (CAN) saw him snatch the track record from his younger brother.
Skeleton fans should also keep an eye on Sungbin Yun (KOR) at the World Championships. In December 2014, he claimed the first World Cup medal for Korea in skeleton sports when he finished third in Calgary, and he has also caused a stir in the BMW IBSF World Cup 2015/2016 season with further podiums: third in Königssee (GER), second in Lake Placid and Park City (both USA), and Korea's first ever World Cup victory in St Moritz (SUI).
Russia’s Alexander Tretyakov, World Champion in 2013 and three-time World Cup runner-up this winter, started the second half of the season competing in the IBSF Intercontinental Cup, setting a new track record of 52.30 seconds in Innsbruck.
Austria’s most successful skeleton pilot of recent years is Matthias Guggenberger, who, like Janine Flock, hails from Innsbruck. But the 31-year-old will be missing from the skeleton races at the World Championships on his home track: after the team competition, in which he and his teammates Janine Flock, Christina Hengster/Sanne Dekker and Benjamin Maier/Dekker Moldovan won the bronze medal, Guggenberger all but collapsed on the track, and the Austrian federation ÖBSV reports that he will be unable to compete in the skeleton races.
As his original stand-in Raphael Maier is also ill, the host team will now be represented in the men’s skeleton by 24-year-old Alexander Auer and 22-year-old Florian Auer, the sons of 1991 World Champion Christian Auer.
The Auer brothers naturally hope to follow in the footsteps of previous Austrian skeleton sliders in the races on home ice in Innsbruck. Austria is the world’s most successful nation in the Skeleton World Championships, with five titles: Gert Elsässer (1982), Michael Grünberger (1990), Christian Auer (1991), Andi Schmidt (1993) and Martin Rettl (2001) have all won World Championship gold for this year‘s host nation. Michael Grünberger, the 1990 World Champion, is now the Austrian national coach and has been guiding the skeleton pilots towards their home World Championships in Innsbruck since the summer of 2015. And Alexander Auer has already proven that he is familiar with the perfect line down the Olympic ice track with the fifth best time of all the skeleton athletes in last weekend’s team competition.
The Austrian men's skeleton team has fond memories of the first home World Championships to be held in Innsbruck: in 1991, the local heroes took all of the medals, with gold for Christian Auer, to this day Austria's only champion on home ice. The silver medal 25 years ago went to Andi Schmidt, who now coaches the British skeleton athletes and guided Lizzy Yarnold to Olympic victory in 2014 and World Championship gold in 2015. The bronze medal in 1991 was taken by Michael Grünberger, who returned to his home country to take a post as head coach to the Austrian skeleton team in the summer of 2015 after coaching positions in locations that include Switzerland and Great Britain. ©RWH2015-2016
Outlook on women’s skeleton World Championships:Janine Flock favourite on home track
Strong competitionwith seven athletes from six nations on World Cup podium so far
Innsbruck (RWH) Her season started unhappily, but skeleton slider Janine Flock of Austria has picked up speed as her home World Championships approach, and confirmed her place among the favourites for the BMW IBSF World Championships in Innsbruck (AUT) with her second European Championship title.
After a dislocated kneecap in August and finishing tenth (Altenberg, GER), seventh (Winterberg, GER) and eleventh (Königssee, GER) in the BMW IBSF World Cups as the 2015/2016 season began, Flock conceded thatshe was mentally exhausted.“I’ve lost my sense of ease and fun.”After the Christmas break and some intensive training – on home ice in Innsbruck, of course – her enjoyment of the sport returned, and with it Flock’s first podium finish of the season with a third in Park City (USA), as well as World Cup victory and a European Championship gold medal in St Moritz (SUI).“I had fun driving the sled.That’s actually worth even more to me,” the 26-year-old Austrian said after the Park City race.
Flock is especially keen to regain her sense of fun this winter at her home World Championships on the Olympic ice track in Innsbruck.And it really will be a home race for the skeleton pilot, who comes from Rum, a town on the Nordkette mountain range above Innsbruck, and virtually opposite the World Championship track.The female skeleton athletes will take to the track four times on 19 and 20 February,on each occasion attempting to set the fastest time on the 1,200-metre ice track as they race from an altitude of 1,124 m down to 1,006 m.“I've spent the last two years working out how to achieve four perfect runs.I’m looking forward to the challenge,ˮ says Flock.
Local star Janine Flock will have plenty of rivals for medals in the women's skeleton event at the BMW IBSF World Championships 2016.Athletes from six nations (AUT, CAN, GBR, GER, SUI, USA) have made it onto the podium in the seven races so far in the BMW IBSF World Cup 2015/2016,with Tina Hermann of Germany heading the field with four victories.
Hermann’s compatriot Jacqueline Lölling, who took a surprise silver at the 2015 World Championships, is currently second in the World Cup rankings.The track in Innsbruck is of special significance for Lölling, who turned 21 shortly before the World Championships,as it was here that the then 16-year-old went down in the history of skeleton as the first ever winner of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG).
Spectators will search in vain for the current Olympic and World Champion Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain, who has taken a sabbatical from the sport this winter.Her role as one of the favourites could well be taken by teammate Laura Deas, who won the World Cup opener in Altenberg and came third in Lake Placid (USA).
Further candidates for medals after a successful World Cup season are Anne O’Shea of the USA (first in Lake Placid and second in Whistler) and Switzerland's Marina Gilardoni (second in Lake Placid, and third in Königssee and St Moritz),both of whom are renowned for their fast starts, something that is likely to stand them in good stead on the Innsbruck Olympic ice track.
The Russian skeleton team has prepared for the World Championships with a mixture of World Cup and Intercontinental Cup races.Olympic bronze medallist Elena Nikitina, who won the Junior World Championships in Innsbruck in 2013, set both a new start record (5.11 seconds) and a new track record (54.07 seconds) on the Olympic track at the IBSF Intercontinental Cup in early January.©RWH2015‑2016
The ultimate ice track discipline:Four-man bobsleigh crowns World Championships
Innsbruck (RWH) Perhaps the prospect of home World Championships has unleashed unsuspected powers in what are already strong men:the four-man bobsleigh teams from Austria have returned surprising results shortly before the start of the BMW IBSF World Championships in Innsbruck.At the BMW IBSF World Cup in St Moritz, which doubled as the European Championships, Benjamin Maier/Marco Rangl/Markus Sammer/Danut Moldovan came second and not only won the silver medal, but also recorded their first ever World Cup podium finish.The silver medal was Austria’s first in the four-man European Championships since 1999, when Wolfgang Stampfer collected bronze, also in St Moritz.The country’s last silver medal was awarded in 1998 to pilot Hubert Schösser in Innsbruck.
At 21, Maier is still classed as a junior athlete (bobsleigh athletes remain juniors until the age of 26) but he also has a wealth of experience in international racing events.The son of national bobsleigh coach Manfred Maier made his international debut in the four-man bobsleigh at the IBSF European Cup back in 2010 at the tender age of 16.The following year he crowned his appearance with Olympic silver at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in the two-man bobsleigh at home in Innsbruck.2013 saw Maier’s first World Cup start in St. Moritz (SUI) and he went on to become one of the youngest bobsleigh pilots to qualify for the Olympic Winter Games (RUS) in 2014 at the age of 19, where he finished twenty-first.At the start of 2016, Benjamin Maier moved from the World to the European Cup, coming second twice in the four-man event in Innsbruck and collecting the silver medal at the Junior World Championships in Winterberg.
And now comes the main event – the World Championships on Maier’s home track.It is impossible to tell by looking at him that Benjamin Maier is still one of the youngest pilots in the starting line-up.Weighing in at 96 kg and standing 1.82 metres tall, he has much the same build as World Champion Maximilian Arndt of Germany and Latvian overall World Cup winner Oskars Melbardis.
Several teams are odds-on favourites at the BMW IBSF World Championships 2016,starting with the World Champion.German athlete Maximilian Arndt successfully defended his title last year in Winterberg, when he took a second World Championship gold in the four-man bobsleigh to add to his success at St Moritz in 2013.Should he take victory in Innsbruck, he would be only the second pilot in bobsleigh history to win three consecutive World Championship titles in the four-man event, the other being André Lange (GER, 2003, 2004 and 2005).And the other German teams also have medal aspirations in Innsbruck: pilots Francesco Friedrich and Nico Walther currently lie second and fourth in the overall standings.Out to thwart their plans is Olympic bronze medallist and World Cup defending champion Oskars Melbardis, who won bronze in the four-man bobsleigh behind Arndt and Walther at the 2015 World Championships in Winterberg.That would be a dream result for the hordes of ice track fans who flock to the event from Latvia, and who are bound to create a lively atmosphere at the BMW IBSF World Championships.
The US teams, including the team piloted by Steven Holcomb, Olympic Champion in 2010 and World Champion in 2009 and 2012, have found their stride in the second half of the season en route to the World Championships and have their sights set firmly on the main event of the ice track season.The same applies to the four-man teams from Russia led by Alexander Kasjanov, who took fourth at the 2014 Olympics and was European Championship silver medallist in 2015.
Whether he wins a medal or not, Austrian bobsleigh pilot Benjamin Maier can bank on plenty of support from friends and fans in his home race at the BMW IBSF World Championships 2016.And the most vocal support of all is likely to come from his family.His father Manfred Maier, himself a former pilot, has been the full-time bobsleigh coach for the Austrian team since 2007.His brother Samuel, the youngest of the Maier brothers, is likely to be the only member of the family cheering Benjamin on from a distance.He will be competing in the second Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, the same weekend.©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 has 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 2,700.
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 .Many countries throughout the world are showing TV coverage of the BMW IBSF World Championships,and in addition, and the IBSF YouTube channelare 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)
BREDAU, Andreas HUEBENBECKER, Marko POSER, Christian
DREISKENS, Daumants VILKASTE, Arvis
BMW IBSF World Cup 2015/2016: winners in men’s skeleton
BMW IBSF World Cup 2015/2016: winners in women’s skeleton
BMW IBSF World Cup 2015/2016: winners in four-man bobsleigh
World Championship statistics: men’s skeleton
World Championship statistics: women’s skeleton
World Championship statistics: four man bobsleigh, part 1
World Championship statistics: four man bobsleigh, part 2