Altenberg (RWH): Over the weekend (20–22 January), IBSF athletes will battle it out in the second successive BMW IBSF World Cup event in Altenberg. At the sixth BMW IBSF World Cup event in the 2022/2023 winter season, points will not only count towards the racing series’ overall standings. At the end of the racing weekend, the rankings from each discipline will also be used to allocate places in the 2023 BMW IBSF World Championships in St. Moritz (SUI, 23.1.– 5.2.). At the same time, the World Cup races will also count as the European Championships for athletes from Europe.
In the women’s skeleton, the defending European Champion Kimberley Bos of the Netherlands is without a doubt one of the favourites to take home a medal in Altenberg. At last week’s World Cup event in Altenberg, a strong second run helped her to climb up from fifth place in the first run to finish on the podium. World Champion Tina Hermann (GER) was in a league of her own, winning with a lead of over one second. Her team-mate Hannah Neise (GER) will arrive in Altenberg fresh from winning gold at the Junior World Championships. The 21-year-old’s impressive collection of titles is still missing a European Championship medal and a win in Altenberg.
In the men’s skeleton, local heroes from the German team – in particular the Olympic Champion Christopher Grotheer and Olympic silver medallist Axel Jungk – are among the main favourites, along with Great Britain’s male skeleton athletes. Like Grotheer and Jungk, Matt Weston, who won the World Cup race in Altenberg last week, and Marcus Wyatt have racked up a total of six podium finishes between them so far this winter. When it comes to gold medals, the Brits have the edge with three World Cup victories – Christopher Grotheer is responsible for the German team’s two men’s skeleton wins.
The Olympic Champion Kaillie Humphries and Laura Nolte (GER) are the favourites to win the World Cup in the women’s monobob. Humphries won the monobob World Cup race during the first week in Altenberg; however, the first run saw Nolte break Humphries’ track record – which she gained during her World Championship victory in 2021 – by almost seven tenths of a second.
Humphries and Nolte are also two of the favourites in the 2-woman bobsleigh – along with World Cup leader and defending European Champion Kim Kalicki (GER). Altenberg has been the backdrop for six of Kaillie Humphries’ 29 World Cup wins in the 2-woman bobsleigh, including her 2020 and 2021 World Championship titles. Kim Kalicki followed the US pilot to win World Championship silver on both occasions. Lisa Buckwitz (GER) celebrated her first World Cup win as a pilot last week in Altenberg.
Johannes Locher (GER) is currently the pilot to beat in the 2-man bobsleigh. The Olympic silver medallist has won the last three BMW IBSF World Cup races in the 2-man event and is also leading the overall standings. Team GB should not be underestimated here either: Brad Hall has finished on the podium in four of the World Cup races so far this 2022/2023 season. And Francesco Friedrich? The Olympic and World Champion and the defending World Cup title holder and European Champion is currently battling a muscle injury and has to let his pushers to do the hard work at the starting line in view of the upcoming World Championships in two weeks.
At the first weekend of World Cup racing in Altenberg, Brad Hall secured his place among the favourites for the 4-man bobsleigh. The British team celebrated their second win of the season and pushed themselves within 15 points of leader Francesco Friedrich in the overall standings. Christoph Hafer (GER) achieved the best 4-man result in his BMW IBSF World Cup career. Hafer, who finished fourth at the Olympics, secured the silver medal. Incidentally, a win for Brad Hall in either the 2-man or 4-man bobsleigh would be a first in the sport: There has not been a British European Champion since the first European Championships were held in 1968. ©RWH2023
Schedule for the BMW IBSF World Cup and European Championships in Altenberg
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
Katrin Beierl (AUT) is back on the sliding track. The Austrian bobsleigh pilot, who won the overall World Cup in the 2-woman bobsleigh in 2021 and finished tenth at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, suffered a stroke while on holiday in August. “I am almost completely blind in my left eye. Thank goodness that is the only symptom,” wrote the 29-year-old on Instagram after her diagnosis. Katrin Beierl got back behind the steering ropes for the first time at the Tirol Cup in Innsbruck. In a post-race interview with the Austrian broadcaster ORF, Beierl was keen not to overrate her victory over an up-and-coming pilot, even though the effects of her stroke are subsiding. If everything goes well, Katrin Beierl is aiming to compete in the Europe Cup in the 2023/2024 season and also hasn’t ruled out the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan/Cortina as her goal. “I am training six times a week. I wouldn’t be working this hard if I were to rule it out completely.” ©RWH2023
Kimberley Bos (NED, women’s skeleton), Francesco Friedrich (GER, 2-man bobsleigh) and Kim Kalicki (GER, 2-woman bobsleigh) will be racing to defend their 2022 European Championship titles in Altenberg. The reigning European Champion in the men’s skeleton Martins Dukurs of Latvia is no longer competing as an athlete – but now has the chance to secure another European Championship gold as a coach for the British team. The European Champion in the women’s monobob Mariama Jamanka (GER) has also retired from active sport. At last week’s BMW IBSF World Cup event in Altenberg, she interviewed her former team-mates in her role as a TV expert. The European Champion in the 4-man bobsleigh Oskars Kibermanis (LAT) is injured and is not competing in the 2022/2023 season. ©RWH2023