Preview: BMW IBSF World Cup and European Championship rehearsal in Altenberg , Photos: IBSF / Viesturs Lacis

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Altenberg (RWH): Events in Altenberg (GER) will kick off the second half of the season of the BMW IBSF World Cup 2022/2023. The weekend of racing in the Ore Mountains also serves as a dress rehearsal for the IBSF European Championships, which are due to start one week later at the second World Cup event in Altenburg.

One face that will be missing from the action in women’s skeleton is that of Olympic Champion Hannah Neise (GER). Following the BMW IBSF World Cup race at the beginning of January, the 21-year-old stayed in Winterberg, where she will be hitting her home track in the IBSF Junior World Championships, which are taking place at the same time as the Altenberg race. Jacqueline Lölling, Olympic silver medalist of 2018, will race in Altenberg instead - and keep her fingers crossed for teammate Neise: The Junior Worlds winners have a personal starting place in addition to the places per nation at the 2023 BMW IBSF World Championships in St. Moritz (SUI) at the end of January. So if Hannah Neise wins in Winterberg, Jacqueline Lölling may also hit the start line at the World Championships. Tina Hermann (GER) will arrive in Altenberg as the leader in the World Cup standings. The 4-time World Champion is the clear favourite: Tina Hermann has won two of her four World Championship titles on the track in the Eastern Ore Mountains and emerged victorious at the last two World Cup races held there. After her first win of the season in Winterberg, defender of the World Cup title Kimberley Bos (NED) will be heading into the competition in Altenberg with extra momentum.

In the men’s skeleton, Olympic Champion Christopher Grotheer will come to Altenberg as overall leader, having secured his fourth World Cup victory in Winterberg. Cheered on by fans and friends, Grotheer took the World Cup title in 2020 and 2021 here on his home track – after two years without spectators, the athletes in Altenberg can now look forward to fans in more familiar numbers. “After two years, it was so great to be back on the track with all the fans, especially up at the start”, enthused his teammate Axel Jungk (GER), currently overall second in the World Cup after the action in Winterberg.

The four races so far in the women’s monobob have produced three winners from three nations, both start and track records as well as decisions that came down to hundredths of a second. One person has been a constant presence on the podium: Olympic and World Champion Kaillie Humphries from the USA. The 37-year-old has her sights firmly set on the next Winter Games in Milan Cortina in 2026 – and until then she will continue to challenge her younger competitors: “The women who came before me didn’t make it easy to get on that podium and win, and I want to do the same. It makes us better as athletes and advances the sport itself everywhere”, explained World Cup leader Kaillie Humphries after events in Winterberg. At present, European Champion Kim Kalicki (GER) is ahead of her competition in the 2-woman bobsleigh.    

Due to injury, local hero Francesco Friedrich is not quite in the top spot in the 2-man and 4-man bobsleigh. The two-time Olympic and World Champion in both the 2-man and 4-man event sustained a muscle injury during sprint training back in late December. “Now it’s time for some damage control”, Friedrich wrote on his bobsleigh team’s Facebook page. Despite his injury, however, Friedrich raced to victory in the 4-man bobsleigh and defended the overall lead. He finished sixth in the 2-man bobsleigh. “You can only do that if you have a fantastic team behind you, who are there looking out for you”, declared the pilot in praise of his pushers. Brit Brad Hall is heading to Altenberg with six podium positions from eight bobsleigh World Cup races. Olympic silver medallist Johannes Lochner is currently at the top of the leader board in the 2-man bobsleigh. ©RWH2023


Timetable BMW IBSF World Cup in Altenberg

schedule Altenberg 1
Subject to changes – Up-to-date times (local time at the track and the user’s local time) are listed on the IBSF website. ©RWH2023


On the sidelines

 Skeleton athletes Freya Tarbit and Tabitha Stoecker (GBR) celebrated their BMW IBSF World Cup debut in Winterberg. 22-year-old Freya Tarbit, who came in tenth at the Junior World Championships in 2022, secured a victory at the IBSF European Cup opener and, with four podium positions in four races, is now in second place in the overall ranking. Tabitha Stoecker, also 22, took second place at the Junior World Championships and third in the European Cup overall. Successful performances in Winterberg saw the athletes place seventh and twelfth, and now they will take to the starting blocks at the IBSF Junior World Championships. Laura Deas and Brogan Crowley raced for the British team in the first three World Cup races, with Crowley unexpectedly finishing second at the World Cup opener in Whistler (CAN). Deas, Olympic bronze medallist from the 2018 PyeongChang games, celebrated her first podium position since February 2019, taking third place in Park City (USA). ©RWH2023

After falling and injuring her foot during training ahead of the World Cup opener in Whistler (CAN), Kim Meylemans (BEL) made a successful season debut at the BMW IBSF World Cup in Winterberg. “After the year I’ve had, it’s totally devastating”, wrote Kim Meylemans on social media at the time. With a bronze medal last year in Innsbruck, the Belgian stands as the first female skeleton athlete in her home country to take home a World Cup medal and finished in the top six in five of her six races at the BMW IBSF World Cup. In Winterberg she placed ninth. ©RWH2023

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