Bobsleigh and skeleton athletes head to St. Moritz for the sixth BMW IBSF World Cup event
Season debut for Olympic Champion Yun, women’s monobob world series joins the action
St. Moritz (RWH): The sixth event of the 2020/2021 season in the BMW IBSF World Cup will be hosted by St Moritz (SUI) this weekend (15 to 17 January). The event at St. Moritz-Celerina Olympia Bobrun, the only track on the World Cup circuit without any artificial ice, could see the overall title being secured early in one or two disciplines. In addition to races in the women’s and men’s skeleton and the 2-woman, 2-man and 4-man bobsleigh, the women’s monobob world series will once again be joining the agenda for the World Cup event.
In the men’s skeleton event, which will take place on the opening day of action in St. Moritz (Friday, 15 January), Martins Dukurs of Latvia has a confident lead in the overall standings of the BMW IBSF World Cup. The defending World Cup title holder has stood atop the podium on four occasions this winter, only giving up the top spot for Alexander Tretiakov (RUS) in Winterberg (GER). Tretiakov, the 2014 Olympic Champion, thus won the European Championship title for the second time after 2007 but he will not be competing in St. Moritz. Instead, Olympic Champion Sungbin Yun (KOR) will appearing for the first time this winter.
Janine Flock has a clear lead in the women’s skeleton. The Austrian athlete has won three of the five races this season and finished in the top three in the two other races. One fact that works in the 31-year-old’s favour is that St. Moritz has provided the backdrop for three out of her nine World Cup wins (in 2015, 2016 and 2018). Last year’s winner in St. Moritz, the World Champion Tina Hermann of Germany, is still waiting for her first win of the season, as is her team mate Jacqueline Lölling. However, the defending World Cup title holder has yet to win a World Cup race in St. Moritz. The European Champion Elena Nikitina will not compete in St. Moritz, instead joining Alexander Tretiakov in the IBSF Intercontinental Cup on the World Championship track in Altenberg (GER).
In the 2-woman bobsleigh, the freshly crowned European Champion Laura Nolte (GER) is heading to St. Moritz having racked up three World Cup victories out of the five races so far. In 2018, the 22-year-old became the U23 World Champion on the Olympia Bobrun. Ahead of the sixth of the eight World Cup races, the overall World Cup standings are led by the Junior World Champion Kim Kalicki. The runner-up in the 2020 World Championships has finished on the podium in all BMW IBSF World Cup races in the 2020/2021 season, though a win is the only thing missing from her score sheet. Switzerland’s 2-woman bobsleigh teams may also be in with a chance: Melanie Hasler only just missed out on her first podium finishes when she finished in fourth and fifth in Sigulda and Innsbruck at the start of the season. Martina Fontanive finished fourth in St. Moritz in 2020.
The undisputed favourite for the 2-man and 4-man bobsleigh in St. Moritz is the World Champion, Olympic Champion and defending World Cup title holder Francesco Friedrich (GER). The 30-year-old will be arriving at the Olympia Bobrun track fresh from his European Championship victory in both events and with nine wins under his belt so far this season. Friedrich has collected plenty of memories on the natural sliding track in the Swiss region of Engadin. In 2012, he competed in his first ever World Cup race here – and lost his brakeman Jannis Bäcker right at the start after he tripped and failed to get into the sled. The following year in St. Moritz saw Friedrich secure the first of his six World Championship titles in the 2-man bobsleigh to date. As strong as the chances are for Friedrich to finish in the top spot, it is all to play for in the rest of the field: Switzerland’s Michael Vogt and Simon Friedli have already joined him on the podium this season, as has Benjamin Maier (AUT), Justin Kripps (CAN), Johannes Lochner and Hans-Peter Hannighofer (both GER), Oskars Kibermanis (LAT) and Rostislav Gaitiukevich (RUS). ©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
Samuel Keiser (SUI) has an experienced mentor in the world of skeleton. The 22-year-old is the nephew of Kerstin Szymkowiak (GER). The 2010 Olympic silver medallist is married to a Swiss man. Between 2012 and 2015, the now 43-year-old was Director of Sports at Swiss Sliding, a role that involved organising taster days for up-and-coming skeleton and bobsleigh stars in St. Moritz. “In spring 2014, two years before the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, my nephew was 15. The perfect time to get a start in skeleton,” explains Kerstin Szymkowiak. “After just two runs in St. Moritz, Samuel had a huge grin plastered across his face. The flame was lit then I think!” The young athlete secured his first starting place in the 2020/2021 BMW IBSF World Cup on his own merit: after several top-ten finishes in the IBSF Europe Cup and Intercontinental Cup, Samuel Keiser was the highest-ranking Swiss athlete in the IBSF rankings in the 2019/2020 season, finishing in 38th. And the next big goal is clear: “I think he would like to discuss what is like to experience a Winter Olympic Games with me as soon as possible,” says Kerstin Szymkowiak. ©RWH2020
Eveline and Rahel Rebsamen (SUI) are working on their bobsleigh comeback following the birth of their children. The twin sisters became mums within just a few weeks of each other in early 2020. Rahel Rebsamen finished ninth with pilot Sabina Hafner at the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018, and, with Eveline in the pilot’s seat, the twin sled finished eighth at the 2019 Junior World Championships. Both sisters currently race as brakewomen in Melanie Hasler’s team, currently fourth in the overall BMW IBSF World Cup. Rahel Rebsamen finished eighth with her pilot at the Europe Cup race in Winterberg in early December. The sisters support one another during training, alternating between practice and child care. This means that only one of the sisters is able to attend the races. And will there be another “Team Rebsamen” in future? “While I am still breastfeeding, I can’t be away for half the year,” says Eveline Rebsamen in an interview with nzz.ch. “And as the pilot, I would have to lead a team, analyse steering lines and look after the equipment in the garage. That would mean working at least eight hours a day. It’s more important for me to be there for my child at the moment. But the dream to race with Rahel again lives on.” ©RWH2021
Olympic Channel’s "Sliding Madness" series with monobob and skeleton from St. Moritz
St. Moritz (RWH) The Olympic Channel looks back at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) competitions in St. Moritz with its "Sliding Madness" series. Episode 3 follows skeleton athletes James McGuire and Teddy Fitzsimons (USA), Episode 4 follows monobob pilot Camila Copain and teammate Nathan Besnard (FRA) as they train, prepare and compete. >> Sliding Madness (olympicchannel.com)
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
>> Athlete profiles on ibsf.org with medals tables, news and photos for all athletes
>> Photos are available on the IBSF Flickr account (editorial purposes only and with photo credits!)
>> Press accreditation is available from the respective track – please consult the COVID-19 regulations in good time and register in advance! >> Information on the IBSF’s COVID-19 regulations
As usual, all races in the 2020/2021 BMW IBSF Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cup will be available to view on a live stream on ibsf.org (with live results ticker) or Youtube. Information about channels and TV broadcasts is available at ibsf.org/en/broadcasters
Further information, photos and videos are available on our social media channels / @IBSFsliding: