2021 starts with the BMW IBSF World Cup and European Championships in Winterberg
Season premiere for 4-man bobsleigh, athletes from Canada and the USA re-join the field
Winterberg (RWH): For the world of bobsleigh and skeleton, the year 2021 is starting with a sporting highlight: At the fifth BMW IBSF World Cup event of the pre-Olympic season, athletes from Europe will also be competing in the European Championships during their races. The event in Winterberg (GER) will also see the 4-man bobsleigh returning to the agenda for the first time this season. And the bobsleigh and skeleton teams from the USA and Canada will be re-joining the World Cup, too.
Friday (8th January), the first day of the BMW IBSF World Cup in Winterberg, will see male and female skeleton athletes battling it out. Martins Dukurs, who has four victories from four races under his belt, is also the defending European Champion in the men’s skeleton. The Latvian athlete has taken home the European skeleton title every year since 2010. Should Martins Dukurs win in Winterberg, this would mark his eleventh successive European Championship gold – however, his last World Cup victory on the German track dates back to January 2017.
In the women’s skeleton, Austria’s Janine Flock has achieved three wins from four races this season, making her the frontrunner in the BMW IBSF World Cup. In Winterberg, the 31-year-old will be hoping for her fourth European Championship title after 2014, 2016 and 2019.
This would be a first for Janine Flock: She has yet to win a race in Winterberg. One athlete working towards her first ever win is Kimberley Bos (NED): Second in the overall World Cup standings, she has been enjoying her best season to date, finishing on the podium in all four races this season.
In the 2-woman bobsleigh, teams from World Cup hosts Germany have secured all four victories so far this season, as well as eleven out of the twelve possible spots on the podium. Katrin Beierl (AUT) finished third at the season opener in Sigulda (LAT), and Melanie Hasler of Switzerland is also within reach of the World Cup podium following two fifth-place finishes and one fourth-place result. Despite not being able to attend the track in Winterberg due to coronavirus restrictions, sports fans from all over the world will be eagerly watching their TV screens or live streams as they look forward to the return of the pilots and brake athletes from the USA and Canada, who will be making their season debut. Among the athletes signed up to compete in Winterberg are the two-time Olympic Champion and reigning World Champion Kaillie Humphries, the two-time World Champion and Olympic silver medallist Elana Meyers Taylor (both USA) and last season’s bronze medallist in the overall World Cup, Christine de Bruin (CAN).
In the 2-man bobsleigh, the Olympic and World Champion Francesco Friedrich (GER) has so far faced most competition from his own team mates, and first and foremost from Johannes Lochner, who has managed to snatch the victory from Friedrich in one out of the eight World Cup races so far in the 2020/2021 World Cup winter. Re-joining the field in Winterberg is Justin Kripps (CAN), though he has yet to make it onto the podium at the German track. In PyeongChang (KOR), the Canadian drew with Francesco Friedrich to win Olympic gold in the 2-man bobsleigh.
In the 4-man bobsleigh, which will be returning to the agenda for the first time in Winterberg after it was removed from the first four World Cup events for reasons related to the coronavirus crisis, Johannes Lochner will start the race as last year’s winner and defending European Champion. Other favourites for the first World Cup race in the 4-man event since early February 2020 include World Champion and defending World Cup holder Francesco Friedrich and the bronze medallist in last year’s overall World Cup, Justin Kripps. The Latvian team had some positive cases before leaving the country for IBSF events. The persons concerned are in home-quarantine. In order to avoid a further spread-out of the virus, the Latvian federation decided to withdraw the whole team. A return is planned for the BMW IBSF Bob & Skeleton World Cup in Königssee. ©RWH2021
Subject to changes – Up-to-date times (local time at the track and the user's local time) are listed on the IBSF website. ©RWH2020
On the sidelines
Jaclyn LaBerge (CAN) will be celebrating her debut in the BMW IBSF World Cup in Winterberg. The 36-year-old Canadian athlete has been competing in international skeleton races since 2008. She has stood atop the IBSF North American Cup podium 21 times, including six victories between 2009 and 2015. “A teammate opted to get a bit of extra training time in North America so a chance to race a few World Cups opened up,” wrote Jaclyn LaBerge on Facebook. “Very grateful for this opportunity and haven’t been able to wipe the smile off my face for a week!” ©RWH2021
Elana Meyers Taylor (USA) has returned to the BMW IBSF World Cup a good ten months after the birth of her son Nico. The 2015 and 2017 World Champion took a break last winter and became a mother in February 2020. The athlete, who won silver at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, qualified for the US World Cup team straight away. In Winterberg, she will be starting alongside World Champion Kaillie Humphries as well as Brittany Reinbolt. ©RWH2021
For the first time in her career, Kim Kalicki (GER) is starting a BMW IBSF World Cup race as the overall leader. The 23-year-old bobsleigh pilot has been a member of the German World Cup team since December 2019. In her six races since then, she has always finished in second or third. However, one thing that the overall leader has yet to achieve is a World Cup win. And if the Junior World Champion manages to secure this at the BMW IBSF World Cup in Winterberg, she would also become European Champion for the first time. ©RWH2021
Claude Brasseur (FRA), the French actor who passed away at the age of 84 in December 2020, was also an active in bobsleigh. Back in the 1960s, he was a brakeman for the pilot Jean-Claude Sauer. At the time, both athletes worked as photographers for the magazine “Paris Match”. After two victories in the French Championships, the pair were already earmarked to represent France at the 1964 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck. However, this never came about: After a crash at the 1963 Bobsleigh World Championships, also in Innsbruck, both athletes ended their sporting careers. Claude Brasseur won a César, the highest film honour in France, in 1977 and 1980. In 1983, he won the Paris-Dakar Rally with Jacky Ickx. (Link: report in Paris Match) ©RWH2021
This season's winners in the 2020/2021 BMW IBSF World Cup - Skeleton
This season's winners in the 2020/2021 BMW IBSF World Cup - Bobsleigh pilots
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