Over 5,000 spectators already cheered on athletes in Königssee
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Königssee (RWH): The first weekend in the 2017 BMW IBSF Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships is already over. Following a grand opening ceremony and action-packed show in the centre of Berchtesgaden, the parade of athletes from 36 countries, and a huge firework display, the agenda for the first weekend (17-19 February) saw four runs each for athletes competing in the women‘s and 2-man bobsleigh events. The first World Championship weekend came to an end with the team contest made up of twelve different teams, including three international teams with athletes from different countries.
The USA, Canada and hosts Germany shared the podium in the bobsleigh events: The USA’s pairings of Elana Meyers Taylor/Kehri Jones with gold and Jamie Greubel Poser/Aja Evans with bronze dominated the competition in the women‘s event. In the men’s race, Francesco Friedrich/Thorsten Margis and Johannes Locher/Joshua Bluhm won gold and bronze for the home team from Germany. Canada won silver in both events with Kaillie Humphries/Melissa Lotholz in the women’s event and Justin Kripps/Jesse Lumsden in the men’s.
The results for the team competition at the 2017 BMW IBSF World Championships will go down in history: A medal was awarded to an international team made up of athletes from different countries for the first time ever in the sport’s history. Competing as the team INT 3, Alexander Gassner (GER) for the men’s skeleton, Maria Constantin/Andreea Grecu (ROU) for the women‘s bobsleigh, Anna Fernstädt (GER) for the women’s skeleton and Junior World Champion Richard Oelsner and his brakeman Marc Rademacher (GER) for the 2-man bobsleigh won the bronze medal at the event in Königssee. They finished 0.85 seconds behind the new World Champion team: Axel Jungk, Mariama Jamanka/Franziska Bertels, Jacqueline Lölling and Johannes Lochner/Christian Rasp competing as GER 1 won the 2017 team gold ahead of Christopher Grotheer, Stephanie Schneider/Lisa Marie Buckwitz, Tina Hermann and Johannes Lochner/Philip Wobeto (GER 2, 0.60 seconds back).
In addition to the mountains around Lake Königssee, the spectators at the event also provided a wonderful backdrop worthy of any World Championships. Over 5,000 sports fans, including Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maziere on Sunday, flocked to the artificial ice track in Königssee to cheer on athletes at the starting line and along the track, and also making sure they all received a warm welcome on the finish line. ©RWH2017
The timetable for the second World Championship week in Königssee
Preview women’s skeleton: World Championships favourites come from Germany, Canada and Austria
Königssee (RWH): One of the favourites to win the World Championships in the women’s skeleton is just 22 years old – in fact, she still qualifies as a junior even though she’s quite an old hand on the ice track. Back in 2012, Jacqueline Lölling of Germany made it into the history books for the first time by becoming the first Youth Olympic champion in her discipline at the age of just 16. Shortly before that, she was the surprise winner at the German Championships. In 2014 and 2015, Jacqueline Lölling won the Junior World Championships, with her win in 2015 giving her a pass to the BMW IBSF World Championships in Winterberg. At the event on her home track, she surprised spectators by securing the World Championship silver medal behind Olympic champion Lizzy Yarnold of the UK. At the 2015/2016 BMW IBSF World Cup, she managed to finish third in her first ever race and ended her first season in the racing series in second place following four further podium finishes. In the pre-Olympic season in 2016/2017, Jacqueline Lölling will arrive at the BMW IBSF World Championships in Königssee as the leader in the World Cup standings. She also has her first two race wins under her belt as well as a gold medal in the European Championships and the Team World Championships.
Her competition in the women’s skeleton World Championships is expected to come from her home camp, as well as Canada and Austria. Defending World Champion Tina Hermann (GER), for example, is currently second in the overall World Cup standings and celebrated her long awaited first win of the season in Igls.
Canada’s skeleton athletes are also doing well on the ice track this season. Mirela Rahneva has achieved four podium finishes in her first seven World Cup races. At her win in St. Moritz, she surprised spectators by taking a lead of almost two seconds over second place – in many races, you don’t even get that much of a gap between first and twentieth place. At the World Championship trials in Königssee, Mirela Rahneva only just missed out on one of the top three spots by finishing fourth. With two wins in Whistler and Winterberg, her team mate Elisabeth Vathje has also contributed to the Canadian team’s impressive results.
Janine Flock of Austria, who was the runner-up at last year’s World Championships in Igls, has finished in the top three four times this World Cup season, including a win in Lake Placid, and could also be in with a chance of a medal in Königssee.
And the Olympic champion? Lizzy Yarnold of the UK treated herself to a season off after taking the Olympic title, World Championship title and overall World Cup win in the space of around 400 days in 2014 and 2015. She returned to the sport in the 2016/2017 winter season and finished second in Lake Placid. However, she recently missed out on the World Cup race in Igls due to back problems.
A total of 33 athletes from 21 countries are registered to compete in the 2017 BMW IBSF World Championships. Yulia Kanakina will arrive in Königssee as the Junior World Champion. ©RWH2017
Preview men’s skeleton: World Cup season promises exciting World Championships
Königssee (RWH): Looking back over the past few years of men’s skeleton at the BMW IBSF World Cup, you will be hard pressed to find a season as exciting as the 2016/2017 pre-Olympic winter. After a somewhat restrained start to the season, defending World Cup winner Martins Dukurs of Latvia is now back at the top of the standings and on his way to securing his eighth consecutive overall victory. However, his lead over second-place Sungbin Yun (KOR) is just 14 points. The Korean has finished on the World Cup podium five times this season, including a gold medal at the opening event in Whistler. Nevertheless, the bronze medallist at the 2016 World Championships will be missing the BMW IBSF World Championships in Königssee in favour of training at the Alpensia Sliding Centre in PyeongChang, which will host both the World Cup finals in March and the Winter Olympic Games this time next year.
As in previous years, one of Martins Dukurs’ main competitors will be Olympic champion Alexander Tretiakov of Russia. The 31-year-old has finished on the podium five times so far this season, including two victories in Lake Placid (USA) and the World Championship rehearsals in Königssee at the end of January.
The trio from the host team from the German Bobsleigh, Luge and Skeleton Federation (BSD) are also hoping to get their hands on a World Championship medal. Germany’s top athlete so far this season, Axel Jungk, is currently among the frontrunners, holding third place in the overall World Cup. The 2012 Junior World Champion finished fourth and only just missed out on the podium at the Königssee World Cup. Axel Jungk’s collection of achievements is currently missing a medal from a major international championship event: He finished fourth at the 2016 World Championships in Innsbruck-Igls (AUT) and fifth at this winter’s European Championships.
Axel Jungk will be joined at the BMW IBSF World Championships in Königssee by his team mates Christoph Grotheer and Alexander Gassner. This winter saw Grotheer, currently fifth in the overall standings, celebrate his first ever World Cup win in Altenberg. In his comeback season, Alexander Gassner, who is now seventh in the overall standings, finished third to secure his first World Cup podium finish – appropriately at the World Championship trials in Königssee. “Hopefully, this means we will be in with a good chance at the World Championships” said the 27-year-old after the race.
A total of 44 skeleton athletes from 26 countries are registered to compete at the 2017 BMW IBSF World Championships. Nikita Tregybov will arrive in Königssee as the Junior World Champion. The Russian won the title for the third successive time this season. ©RWH2017
Preview 4-man bobsleigh: Teams from Germany, Latvia, Russia and the USA among the favourites
Königssee (RWH): The favourites to take the medals in the 4-man bobsleigh at the 2017 BMW IBSF World Championships in Königssee (GER) include crews from Germany, Latvia, Russia and the USA. The final weekend (25 + 26 February) of the two weeks of World Championship races will come to a close with four runs by bobsleigh’s elite competitors. Experience shows that teams from all of the countries can look forward to enthusiastic support from the thousands of spectators lining the track from start to finish.
And of course the cheers will be extra loud when the host country's 4-man bobsleigh teams make their way to the finish line above Lake Königssee. The German Bobsleigh, Luge, and Skeleton Federation (BSD) have entered four teams into their home World Championships: Established pilots Francesco Friedrich, Nico Walther and Johannes Lochner, currently holding ranks five to seven in the overall World Cup standings, will also be joined by Junior World Champion Bennet Buchmüller.
Germany’s hottest favourite for the 2017 BMW IBSF World Championships is currently Johannes Lochner. The 26-year-old has taken the top spot in the 4-man bobsleigh a total three times during his debut season at the World Cup – including a victory at the World Championship rehearsals in Königssee which saw him push his team mate Nico Walther back into second place. Third place at the race (and his first ever podium finish at the World Cup) was awarded to Alexey Stulnev of Russia, who joins his team mate Alexander Kasjanov (RUS) (currently top of the standings in the World Cup) among the favourites for a medal.
Former champion Steven Holcomb of the USA finished in fourth at the Königssee World Cup race and was just a single hundredth of a second behind Alexey Stulnev. The 2010 Olympic Champion joined in with fan celebrations at the side of the track at the World Championship trial and is now hoping to secure his seventh individual medal at the bobsleigh World Championships during what is his best season of recent years. Steven Holcomb is well aware of what you need to do to win at Königssee: At the last World Championships here in 2011, he won the bronze medal.
Other key contenders in Königssee include the team from Latvia, particularly defending World Champion Oskars Melbaris, who won the first ever World Championship title in the 4-man event for his bobsleigh and skeleton-loving country in Innsbruck-Igls in 2016. Melbaris was forced to undergo back surgery last summer, which meant he had to miss the first World Cup races for 2016/2017. However, the overall winner of the 2015 World Cup celebrated his first victories of the season in St. Moritz (SUI) and at the World Cup in Innsbruck – right on time for the highlight of the season.
An insider tip: At the 2016 World Cup finals in Königssee, Benjamin Maier of Austria built on his surprise silver medal from the European Championships in St. Moritz by finishing in second. He also won bronze at this winter’s 2017 IBSF European Championships. ©RWH2017
IBSF media guides, starting lists, reports and results in the new press area at ibsf.org
Königssee (RWH): Journalists can look forward to a fresh new look and more extensive information on the press pages at ibsf.org (available under the “Press” menu or directly at http://www.ibsf.org/de/presse-kontakt). For the 2017 BMW IBSF Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships, the menu will contain starting lists for the first runs of all events and the latest media guides:
Media guide - Event information for the entire season, including the BMW IBSF World Cup and BMW IBSF World Championships: This guide outlines key information concerning bobsleigh and skeleton, the IBSF International Rules, the new IBSF draw system and all of the tracks.
Media guides - Athletes for both bobsleigh and skeleton for each World Championship weekend: containing a profile of all bobsleigh pilots and skeleton athletes and an overview of their results, the latest World Cup standings, and an interesting insight into their backgrounds. The Athletes media guides are updated prior to each World Championship weekend.
The press area also contains information on media accreditation, links to the latest press releases, results and information on the IBSF’s social media platforms. ©RWH2017
Keep up to date with IBSF news on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube
Königssee (RWH): As usual, all the latest news, start lists, race results, lots of photos and videos, and a wealth of information about the 2017 BMW IBSF Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships will be available on various social media platforms:
The official hashtag for the World Championships is #BMWworlds17.
A live ticker for all World Championship races, results lists showing all race times and overall times can be found on the IBSF homepage at www.ibsf.org/de.
Over 40 countries around the world are showing TV coverage of the BMW IBSF World Championships. You can find a list of our current TV partners at: www.ibsf.org/de/sender.
What’s more, NBC (in the USA), CBC (in Canada), www.ibsf.org and the IBSF YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/bobskeletv (available in almost all other countries) also broadcast all races as live streams, with commentary provided by Martin Haven and John Morgan on the IBSF channels. ©RWH2017
On the sidelines
John Daly (USA) will celebrate his return to the skeleton spotlight at the BMW IBSF World Championships in Königssee. Daly, who finished eighth in the overall World Cup standings in 2014, turned his back on the sport following the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi (RUS). His reasons? The now 31-year-old was ranked fourth ahead of the fourth Olympic heat, stepping up to the starting line with strong chances of receiving a medal. However, his runner slipped out of the starting groove during the push-off, leading to Daly finishing in 15th place. “I was devastated and I was irate” explained John Daly in a recent article on teamusa.org prior to the start of the season. John Daly has since completed seven races in the IBSF’s European Cup, North American Cup and Intercontinental Cup in the 2016/2017 season – and has celebrated a total of four wins and two silver medals. His reward? A pass to the 2017 BMW IBSF World Championships in Königssee. ©RWH2017
Akwasi Frimpong (GHA) will be Ghana’s first athlete to step up to the starting line at the IBSF World Championships. In 2016, the skeleton athlete founded the Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation of Ghana (BSF Ghana), one of the newest members of the IBSF International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation. Akwasi Frimpong, who holds dual citizenship for his native country of Ghana and the Netherlands, is a former sprinter and competed as a brakeman for the Dutch bobsleigh team in 2013. Now racing as a skeleton athlete, the 31-year-old has qualified for the 2017 BMW IBSF World Championships in Königssee after competing in twelve races at the IBSF’s North American Cup and European Cup. ©RWH2017
Nick Cunningham (USA) secured his pass to the 2017 BMW IBSF World Championships in Königssee after winning the overall title in the 2016/2017 IBSF North American Cup. The 31-year-old first competed as a bobsleigh pilot at an IBSF World Championships in Lake Placid back in 2012. Back then, he finished ninth in the 2-man event and twelfth in the four-man race. Nick Cunningham has finished on the podium on numerous occasions at the World Cup. In 2015, he was ninth overall in the 2-man event. At BMW IBSF World Championships 2017 he finished 23rd in 2-man bobsleigh. ©RWH2017
The World Champions from Innsbruck in February 2016
Photos: Charlie Booker
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