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Sigulda (RWH): The athletes of the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation IBSF will say goodbye to the pre-Olympic year and ring in 2022 – the pinnacle of which will be the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing – with a full weekend of racing. The sixth event in the BMW IBSF World Cup season will take place in Sigulda (LAT) on 31 December 2021 and 1 and 2 January 2022.
While some athletes have already met their nations’ Olympic qualification criteria – meaning the weight has been lifted at least slightly ahead of the coming World Cup weekend – the pressure is still on for others. For the UK’s bobsleigh athletes, for instance, the rules require “three finishes in the top two thirds of the World Cup starting field”. So, there are no issues here for Brad Hall, who had already fulfilled this criterion for both the 2-man and 4-man bobsleigh after the first three races. The same goes for Melanie Hasler (SUI), who finished sixth and seventh in the 2-woman bobsleigh at the season opener in Innsbruck (AUT) and has also achieved three eighth-place finishes in the monobob. Switzerland's rules for qualifying? Athletes need to finish eighth or higher in three races. In contrast, one athlete still battling for their spot during the Olympic season is skeleton athlete Jacqueline Lölling (GER). The silver medallist from the PyeongChang Olympics must achieve two podium finishes or three top-eight finishes according to Germany’s qualifying criteria but still needs to finish in the top three or eight two more times. The 2017 World Champion's only qualification-worthy result so far has been a fourth-place finish at the BMW IBSF World Cup in Winterberg.
The 2-man bobsleigh agenda for Sigulda features not one but two races: The track is not able to host 4-man bobsleigh races so Winterberg held a 4-man double feature back in December instead. Francesco Friedrich remains the pilot to beat in the 2-man event: Since winning Olympic gold in PyeongChang back in 2018, the German has competed in 31 BMW IBSF World Cup 2-man bobsleigh races and won 27 of them. And in the remaining four, he finished second. He also won the World Championship titles in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Since the last Winter Olympics, only his team-mate Johannes Lochner and Latvia's Oskars Kibermanis have managed to finish ahead of the undisputed best 2-man bobsleigh pilot in the world. Local hero Kibermanis achieved one of his victories in Sigulda in February 2020, when the Latvian also secured the European Championship title in front of thousands of local fans.
In the men's skeleton, local heroes Martins and Tomass Dukurs will also have a home advantage at the BMW IBSF World Cup event in Sigulda. Together, the brothers are responsible for all of the country's 60 World Cup wins – Tomass for the first victory back in February 2004 and Martins for the remaining 59 to date. So, the record-breaking World Champion Martins could potentially win his 60th World Cup gold at his home track in Sigulda.
In the 2-woman bobsleigh, there will be some new names on the list of starters at the BMW IBSF World Cup in Sigulda: For this race, Stephanie Schneider, Lisa Buckwitz and Anne Spreeuwers will be sitting in the pilot seat instead of World Cup leader Laura Nolte, Olympic Champion Mariama Jamanka and World Championship silver medallist Kim Kalicki. ©RWH2021
The schedule for Sigulda
Subject to changes – Up-to-date times (local time at the track and the user’s local time) are listed on the IBSF website. ©RWH2021
On the sidelines
Bobsleigh pilot Melanie Hasler (SUI) has been forced to miss the BMW IBSF World Cup race in Sigulda due to injury. The 23-year-old – who finished second in the Olympic test event for the women’s monobob at Yanqing Sliding Centre – strained her hamstring during the second run in the 2-woman bobsleigh race in Altenberg (GER) and needed help to climb out of her sled. “It was a tough decision for the federation, doctor and me – but sometimes you have to take a step back for a run up,” wrote Melanie Hasler on Instagram. ©RWH2021
Skeleton athlete Kimberley Bos (NED) recently joined the Athlete's Commission on the Dutch Olympic Committee (NOC*NSF). According to a report on nocnsf.nl, the World Cup leader will be concentrating on the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing before assuming an active role on the commission. “As an athlete in a sport that is still relatively unknown – the BSBN is the smallest sports organisation in the Netherlands – I can empathise with those elite athletes who don’t always feel “seen”. They must not be forgotten about and I will be delighted to represent their interests,” said Kimberley Bos in the report. ©RWH2021
Olympic weight lifter Tia-Clair Toomey (AUS) made her debut appearance as a bobsleigh brakewoman at the IBSF North American Cup in Lake Placid (USA). The 28-year-old, who was the 2018 Commonwealth Games Champion in the women’s 58 kg class, finished second in all three races with pilot Ashleigh Werner. Tia-Clair Toomey finished 14th in her weight class at the 2016 Olympics and won the CrossFit Games from 2017 to 2021. ©RWH2021
This season’s winners in the 2021/2022 BMW IBSF World Cup – Skeleton
This season’s winners in the 2021/2022 BMW IBSF World Cup – Women's bobsleigh
This season’s winners in the 2021/2022 BMW IBSF World Cup – Men's bobsleigh
>> Athlete profiles on ibsf.org with medals tables, news and photos for all athletes
>> All results from IBSF races and training sessions
>> 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 (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)