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Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation

News arcticle

Jan 17, 2012
Preview to Viessmann FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Cup Tour 2011/2012 in St. Moritz
Bobsleigh and skeleton racers end European leg of tour on world’s oldest ice track  
St. Moritz (RWH)  St. Moritz, which must have the longest history in the sport of bobsleigh, will be hosting the sixth round in the Viessmann FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Cup Tour 2011/2012, which is also the last stage in  the European leg of the tour. The seventh and eighth World Cup races will be held on Canadian soil in Whistler (2-4 February) and Calgary (9-11 February) before the athletes move to Lake Placid, USA (13-26 February) for the season’s highlight, the Bauhaus FIBT World Championships. Incidentally, St. Moritz will be hosting the World Championships in February 2013 at the end of next season.
As the St. Moritz races approach, Marion Thees of Germany heads the overall skeleton rankings with 938 points followed by Mellisa Hollingsworth of Canada with 929 points and Shelley Rudman of Great Britain with 897 points. In the men’s skeleton, Martins Dukurs of Latvia is in the lead with 1,076 points followed by Frank Rommel of Germany with 1,003 points and Alexander Tretiakov of Russia with 970.
In the women’s bobsleigh, Cathleen Martini’s third victory in succession in Königssee (GER) further strengthened the German athlete’s lead and she now has 1,069 points. Fellow German Anja Schneiderheinze is second with 995 points and Fabienne Meyer of Switzerland is third with 986 points after putting in a podium appearance in four of the five races so far this season. Beat Hefti of Switzerland won the two-man bobsleigh in Königssee, a victory which took him into the lead with 1,066 points. He is followed by Maximilian Arndt of Germany with 938 points
and Thomas Florschütz, also of Germany, with 885 points. European Champion Florschütz is injured, however, and will not be competing in St. Moritz. Alexandr Zubkov of Russia heads the four-man bobsleigh with 1,054 points followed by Maximilian Arndt of Germany with 979 points and defending titleholder Manuel Machata, also of Germany, with 963 points.
The St. Moritz-Celerina Olympic Bobrun started operation in 1904, making it the oldest ice track in the world. It is the only remaining natural ice track on which bobsleigh and skeleton races are held. The course of the 1,722m long track between Badrutt’s Park in St. Moritz at 1,852m and Celerina-Cresta at 1,738m, has changed very little in the last hundred years, and the same is true of its design: at the end of November every year, a crew from South Tyrol spends three weeks constructing the new ice track for the season using 5,000m³ snow and 4,000m³ water. The only concessions to modified technology and the heavier sleighs are a larger curve radius, some stone and wood reinforcement, particularly in horseshoe corner, and the extension of the run-off.
The historic bobrun in St. Moritz has seen not only 21 World Championships (18 in bobsleigh and three in skeleton), 15 European Championships (11 in bobsleigh and four in skeleton) and any number of World Cups in both disciplines, it also hosted the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics. Interestingly, the Games in 1928 were made unique by the fact that the bobsleigh races were run in five-man sleighs for the first and only time. By 1932 in Lake Placid (USA), only four-man sleighs were allowed to race, and the two-man competition was held for the first time.

FIBT President Ferriani in St. Moritz for Europa Cup finals  
“These athletes are the future of our sport”

St. Moritz (RWH) Ivo Ferriani, President of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation FIBT (Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing) made the most of the finals of the Europa Cup in St. Moritz, Switzerland, to see for himself just how good the young bobsleigh talent is. Almost 200 athletes from 18 nations (ARG, AUS, AUT, BEL, CRO, ESP, FRA, GBR, GER, ITA, LIE, MON, NED, NOR, PAN, ROU, RUS, SUI) took part in the final competitions of the racing series on the St. Moritz-Celerina Olympic Bobrun. The overall winners of the 2011/2012 season in the women’s bobsleigh (Stefanie Szczurek, GER), and the men’s two-man and four-man bobsleigh (Francesco Friedrich of Germany in both disciplines) were decided on the oldest ice track in the world. “The young athletes competing here in St. Moritz are the future of our sport,” said Ferriani. “FIBT would particularly like to thank the coaches and other members of the team for their commitment. I look forward to watching many of their athletes race in future World Cups and European and World Championships.”
As part of its development programme, FIBT has appointed its own coaches Nicola Minichiello, Joseph Kilburn, Pat Brown, Rebecca Sorensen and Ueli Geissbühler to help the national associations in their work with young talents. Athletes from 22 countries attended the bobsleigh academies in Park City (USA) and Igls (AUT) to improve their theoretical knowledge and practical skills before the season started.

St. Moritz timetable
St. Moritz (RWH)  FIBT’s female athletes will be fighting for World Cup points on Friday, 20 January, the first day of racing in St. Moritz. The skeleton pilots will be racing first, starting at 8.50 am, and they will be followed down the St. Moritz-Celerina Olympic Bobrun by the female bobsledders from 1 pm. The men’s skeleton in the sixth round of the World Cup racing tour will be held on Saturday, 21 January from 8.50 am, followed by the two-man bobsleigh at 1 pm. The four-man bobsleigh event closes the sixth round in the racing tour starting at 9 am on Sunday (22 January).   

Friday, 20 January, 8.50 am:    Women’s skeleton
Friday, 20 January, 1.00 pm:    Women’s bobsleigh
Saturday, 21 January, 8.50 am:    Men’s skeleton
Saturday, 21 January, 1.00 pm:    Men’s 2-man bobsleigh
Sunday, 22 January, 9.00 am:    Men’s 4-man bobsleigh

Last year’s winners in St. Moritz
St. Moritz (RWH) The St. Moritz-Celerina Olympic Bobrun in Switzerland was also the scene of the seventh of eight rounds in the Viessmann FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Cup Tour 2010/2011.
Britain’s skeleton racer Shelley Rudman, the newly crowned European Champion, came in first ahead of Mellisa Hollingsworth of Canada in second and 2008 World Champion Anja Huber of Germany in third.
In the men’s skeleton, Martins Dukurs of Latvia successfully defended his title in St. Moritz: the European Champion celebrated his fourth victory of the season to be crowned overall World Cup winner before the tour had ended. Frank Rommel of Germany was second ahead of Ben Sandford of New Zealand, whose third gave him not only the first World Cup podium appearance of his career, but was also the first ever top-three placing for a New Zealand skeleton racer.
Sandra Kiriasis of Germany celebrated her fifth victory of the season in the women’s bobsleigh, racing into first with brakewoman Berit Wiacker ahead of fellow Germans Anja Schneiderheinze and Christin Senkel. The then three-times European Champion Cathleen Martini of Germany came third with Romy Logsch.
In the two-man bobsleigh, Manuel Machata of Germany came first in St. Moritz, his second victory after winning the opening race in Whistler. Together with brakeman Andreas Bredau, Machata beat Switzerland's Beat Hefti and Thomas Lamparter down to second. Third went to Thomas Florschütz and Kevin Kuske, also of Germany.
In the four-man bobsleigh, pilot Edgars Maskalans of Latvia raced onto the podium for the first time with a first. Together with teammates Daumants Dreiskens, Ugis Zalims and Intars Dambis, he came in ahead of the Swiss team of Beat Hefti, Roman Handschin, Thomas Lamparter and Manuel Lüthi. A cause for celebration for Maskalans, whose best World Cup placing to date was fifth in Altenberg (2008) and Winterberg (2011), and the first ever podium placing as pilot of the four-man sleigh for Hefti, too, who pushed Ivo Rüegg to the top in the four-man event in the 2007 World Championships. Third place on the St. Moritz-Celerina Olympic Bobrun went to Manuel Machata, Andreas Bredau, Richard Adjei and Christian Poser of Germany.

On the sidelines

Elizabeth Yarnold (GBR) followed illustrious footsteps at the Viessmann FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Cup in Königssee. The 23-year-old, runner-up in the 2011 Junior World Championships, replaced Olympic Champion Amy Williams in the British skeleton team, whose sixth in Winterberg was her only top ten placing in the first four World Cups of the season. “Lizzy” came fourteenth in her World Cup debut after securing a place in the tour with excellent results in the Intercontinental Cup. The young skeleton racer won both races in Lillehammer (NOR), even setting a new track record there of 54.92 seconds, and went on to come third and second in Sigulda, giving her overall victory in FIBT’s second highest racing series. Her reward is the right to compete in the forthcoming World Cups in St. Moritz (SUI) and on the Canadian ice tracks in Whistler and Calgary. (RWH)

Ben Sandford (NZL) celebrated a double first in the Viessmann FIBT World Cup in St. Moritz last year. The skeleton athlete made a World Cup podium appearance for the first time in his career, and indeed for the first time in New Zealand’s skeleton sporting history. Incidentally, the 32-year-old athlete is nephew to Bruce Sandford, the surprise 1992 World Champion, and has already overtaken his uncle in World Cup matters, as Bruce Sandford’s best World Cup result was a fourth (Cervinia, ITA, 1990). (RWH)

Oliver Harraß and Benjamin Schmid (GER) both made their World Cup debut in the driving seat of the bobsleigh in the Königssee Viessmann FIBT World Cup, taking the reins from their injured teammate Thomas Florschütz. Benjamin Schmidt, 2009 German Junior Champion in the two-seater, came seventh in his first World Cup race, while Oliver Harraß, silver medallist in the four-man German Championships, took over the four-seater and came ninth. In the sixth round of the World Cup in St. Moritz, Harraß will be giving up his place to Junior World Champion and overall Europa Cup winner Francesco Friedrich. (RWH)

Urs Vescoli (AUS) is a veteran of the international skeleton racing circuit. Born in Switzerland, Vescoli celebrated his 45th birthday in November last year. He won a bronze medal in the 1985 European Championships in Sarajevo in what was then Yugoslavia – now Bosnia and Herzegovina – behind fellow Swiss Nico Baracchi and Austria’s Andy Schmid. In 1990 Vescoli won his first and only World Cup race in Calgary (CAN), coming second in the overall rankings behind Christian Auer of Austria. Still active on the skeleton front in various FIBT tours today, and racing under the Australian flag since the 2003/2004 season, Urs Vescoli joined this season’s Viessmann FIBT World Cup in Königssee, where he came 27th. (RWH)

Prince Albert of Monaco (MON), who drove a bobsleigh in five Winter Olympics under his family name of Grimaldi, has succeeded the late Juan Antonio Samaranch, who died in 2010, as patron of the World Olympians Association. The WOA unites all 100,000 athletes who have ever taken part in a Summer or Winter Olympics. The 53-year-old prince has been a member of the International Olympic Committee IOC since 1985. (RWH)