Photo: IBSF / Viesturs Lacis

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BMW IBSF World Cup celebrates new season with première and comeback in Sigulda

Sigulda (RWH) The World Cup for bobsleigh and skeleton athletes is set to celebrate a première and a comeback at the 2018/2019 season opener in Sigulda (LAT). The BMW IBSF World Cup is heading to Latvia for the first time as a joint race series for bobsleigh and skeleton athletes. The first of eight World Cup rounds featuring skeleton and bobsleigh will be staged there from 3-9 December 2018.

The disciplines of Women’s Skeleton, Men’s Skeleton and 2-woman Bobsleigh are all making a World Cup comeback in Sigulda. The last skeleton World Cup in Sigulda took place in December 2005. The women’s event was won by Maya Pedersen (SUI, today NOR) ahead of Kerstin Szymkowiak (GER) and Mellisa Hollingsworth (CAN), while Jeff Pain (CAN) took victory in the men’s event ahead of Zach Lund (USA) and Paul Boehm (CAN).

The athletes in the 2-woman Bobsleigh last competed at a World Cup in Sigulda in February 2004, when two races and the European Championship were staged. Germany’s Cathleen Martini won both races, one with brakewoman Yvonne Cernota and one with Sandra Germain, and also clinched the European title. At that time, the European Championship consisted of a combination of both races.

The IBSF athletes also regularly visit Latvia to compete in the Europe Cup and the Intercontinental Skeleton Cup. ©RWH2018

Dukurs brothers and Alexander Tretiakov have World Cup experience in Sigulda

Sigulda (RWH) 14 or 15 years is a long time in competitive sport – so the majority of athletes who were in action during the last World Cups in Sigulda back in 2004 and 2005 are no longer competing. The two local heroes in the Men’s Skeleton are a notable exception: Tomass Dukurs finished twelfth on his home track in December 2005, while his younger brother Martins finished 20th. Alexander Tretiakov of Russia, who won Olympic gold in Sochi in 2014, also took to the starting line in Sigulda in 2005. The 2013 World Champion finished tenth. His start was a standout feature. No other athlete could beat Tretiakov’s 4.59 seconds over the first metres.

Other competitors from 2005 are now on the other side of the fence: Winner Jeff Pain (CAN), who took Olympic silver in 2006, is head coach of the skeleton team from China. Zach Lund (USA), who finished second in the World Cup in 2005, joined Ghana before the start of the season after spending many years as a coach in the USA. German head coach Dirk Matschenz also knows the Sigulda track from his time as an athlete. He competed for the Netherlands in 2005, finishing 22nd. ©RWH2018

Olympic Champions, World Champions and European Champions in action in Sigulda
Two races in the two-man bobsleigh – up to 4,000 fans expected at the track each day

Sigulda (RWH) Fans at the BMW IBSF World Cup in Sigulda will be able to watch Olympic Champions, World Champions and European Champions in action. Francesco Friedrich (GER), Olympic and World Champion in the 2-man and 2-man Bobsleigh, will take to the starting line along with his teammate Mariama Jamanka, who won Olympic gold in the 2-woman Bobsleigh.

The duel between Olympic Champion and defending World Cup holder Sungbin Yun of Korea and local hero and World and European Champion Martins Dukurs (LAT) promises to be particularly interesting. Yun was indisputably the dominant athlete in the Men’s Skeleton last winter. Martins Dukurs, who won the overall World Cup between 2010 and 2017, reversed his decision to retire following a disappointing fourth place at the PyeongChang Olympics. The 34-year-old will start the 2018/2019 World Cup opener with renewed motivation.

The 4-man bobsleighs will not compete at the World Cup opener in Sigulda. Instead, two races in the men’s 2-man Bobsleigh will be staged on 8 and 9 December. The organisers in Sigulda are expecting up to 4,000 spectators per day during the World Cup weekend. ©RWH2018

The last World Cup winners in Sigulda
Last WCup Sigulda

World Cup schedule Sigulda
Schedule Sigulda E

On the sidelines

Ivo Pakalns (LAT) is Switzerland’s new skeleton coach. This was announced by the association Swiss Sliding. The Latvian was head coach of the Canadian skeleton athletes until the end of the 2018 Olympic season. He steered Jane Channell (2016), Mirela Rahneva (2017) and Elisabeth Vathje (2018) to third in the overall standings of the BMW IBSF World Cup. Elisabeth Vathje also won World Championship bronze in 2015. At the beginning of his coaching career, Ivo Pakalns also worked in his native Latvia, helping two of the world’s best skeleton athletes – Martins and Tomass Dukurs – at the beginning of their careers. ©RWH2018

Janine Flock (AUT) is to miss season-opening World Cup in Sigulda. The European Skeleton Champion of 2014 and 2016 announced her decision in a press release from the Austrian Olympic Committee (ÖOC) ahead of the season. The 29-year-old, who finished fourth at the PyeongChang Olympics, stated that she had fallen behind with her training following back problems in the summer. Janine Flock contested the start of the post-Olympic season in the IBSF Intercontinental Cup – taking two victories on her home track in Innsbruck and two second places in Winterberg (GER). ©RWH2018

Lelde Priedulena (LAT), seventh at the PyeongChang Olympics, will not take part in the BMW IBSF World Cup on her home track in Sigulda. The 25-year-old, who was the first Latvian Junior World Champion in skeleton racing in 2016, had to undergo cruciate ligament surgery in the summer. According to a report from the Latvian Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association, Lelde Priedulena is planning to return to action at the fifth BMW IBSF World Cup and European Championship at Königssee (GER) in the second half of the season. ©RWH2018

Ander Mirambell (ESP) is out of action at least until the end of 2018. The Spanish skeleton athlete announced on Facebook and Twitter that he is suffering with serious back problems. Mirambell, who won the IBSF North American Cup in 2016, is taking advantage of the enforced lay-off to look for new skeleton athletes in Spain. The first young athletes have already travelled to Innsbruck (AUT) for initial training on the Olympic ice track. Ander Mirambell received a special award in his home country at the end of November, when he was presented with the medal of honour of the city of Barcelona for his achievements. ©RWH2018

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