Viessmann FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Cup Tour 2010/2011 moves to Lake Placid
First half of season closes with round four on Mount Van Hoevenberg
Lake Placid (RWH) Lake Placid really is a placid little place. Or it is until major sporting events come to town, such as the Viessmann FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Cup Tour 2010/2011, which stops off in the north of the US state of New York this weekend (17–19 December). The site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics will host the last races for World Cup points before the whole show breaks for Christmas. The second half of the season will be fought out on European soil, with stops in Igls (Austria), Winterberg (Germany), St. Moritz (Switzerland) and Cesana (Italy).
The first run in the women's skeleton starts on Friday, 17 December at 9 am local time / 3 pm CET, with Anja Huber looking to maintain her leadership in the overall ranking after her victories in Calgary and Park City, while World Cup debutantes Anne O'Shea and Kimber Gabryszak (USA) hope to make it into the top ten at last in the second World Cup race on home ground. In the men's skeleton (Friday, 17 December 1 pm local time / 7 pm CET), Olympic bronze medallist Alexander Tretiakov of Russia goes into the fourth round at the top of the World Cup rankings. Currently at sixth, America's Matthew Antoine has excellent chances of moving up the table if he does well in the second US World Cup stop on Mount Van Hoevenberg's Olympic track.
Manuel Machata (GER) leads the field in both the two-man and the four-man bobsleigh. And Olympic four-man bob champion Steven Holcomb of the USA, who hasn't made the podium since his victory in the two-man sleigh at the Whistler opening, is eager to rejoin the top three in the last of the races on home ground. The men's races take place at 9 am local time / 3 pm CET on Saturday (18 December, two-man) and Sunday (19 December, four-man).
After cancellation of their race in Park City due to bad weather, the women bobsleighers are now looking forward to two races before a US crowd in Lake Placid on Friday, 17 December at 9.45 am / 3.45 pm CET, and Saturday, 18 December at 1 pm local time / 7 pm CET. And good results for America's Shauna Rohbock and Bree Schaaf, currently fourth and fifth in the World Cup ranking, could move them up a notch or two to displace today's top three of Sandra Kiriasis, Cathleen Martini (both GER) and Kaillie Humphries (CAN).
Lake Placid wrote bobsleigh history – two and four-man format Olympic since 1932
Lake Placid (RWH) The fourth stop on the Viessmann FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Cup Tour 2010/2011 is historically significant for the sport of bobsleigh, as it was here in Lake Placid that today's two-man and four-man bobsleigh formats were added to the Olympic programme for the III Olympic Winter Olympics. Admittedly, the larger sleigh was also present at the 1924 Olympics in Chamonix (France) and 1928 Olympics in St. Moritz (Switzerland), but then a fifth person was allowed on board. It wasn't until 1932 that this sleigh was limited to four men, and the two-man bobsleigh was introduced.
The gold medals in both disciplines went to the US hosts that year, with Hubert and Curtis Stevens winning the first ever two-man event, and William Fiske, Edward Eagan, Clifford Gray and Jay O' Brien coming out top in the four-man sleigh. The XIII Olympic Winter Games in 1980 were again held in Lake Placid, but this time with either completely refurbished or newly built sports centres and facilities. Erich Schärer and Josef Benz of Switzerland won gold in the two-man event, and the East German team of Meinhard Nehmer, Bogdan Musiol, Bernhard Germeshausen and Hans-Jürgen Gerhardt won the four-man competition.
FIBT president Ivo Ferriani upbeat after first third of season
High safety level "particularly pleasing"
Lake Placid (RWH) Ivo Ferriani, new President of the international bobsleigh and skeleton federation FIBT, is more than happy after the first third of the season. "I am very satisfied", the 50-year-old Italian said ahead of the fourth of eight rounds in the Viessmann FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Cup Tour 2010/2011, which takes place in Lake Placid (USA) this weekend. "We're bringing exciting races which are being widely covered by TV all over the world, and we are most definitely on the right track," he continued. Ferriani was particularly full of praise for the high level of safety in the events to date. "There have fortunately been no serious crashes, not least thanks to the care taken by our sports directors Georg Werth and Heinz Thoma".
Ferriani, who took over leadership of the international federation in September, underlined the considerable diversity shown in the 15 World Cup races to date in men's and women's skeleton, women's bobsleigh, and the two and four-man bobsleigh. "We have reigning stars such as Olympic four-man bobsleigh champion Steven Holcomb of the USA or Russia's Alexsandr Zubkov, who took Olympic bronze in the two-man event; we have new faces such as Manuel Machata of Germany; and we have surprises such as Patrice Servelle, who secured the first ever podium place for Monaco by coming second in Calgary", said Ferriani, who was pleased to note that six nations (CAN, GER, ITA, MON, RUS, USA) had already taken their place on the bobsleigh podium. The top positions in the women's bobsleigh were shared between Canada, Germany and the USA after the first two races.
The FIBT President also remarked on the amount of male and female talent at the top of the skeleton scene. "We'll be seeing more exciting races this winter." Five nations (CAN, GBR, GER, LAT, RUS) had already secured at least one place on the podium in the first third of the season. Ferriani also remarked with pleasure on the return of La Plagne to the FIBT calendar. The area will be hosting a race in the Intercontinental Cup on the 1992 Olympic track this weekend – the first international competition in eight years.
Lake Placid timetable
Lake Placid (RWH) Head first in the last round of the World Cup in 2010: the women's skeleton opens the fourth round in the Viessmann FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Cup Tour 2010/2011 in Lake Placid (USA) on Friday, 17 December at 9 am local time (CET: 3 pm). The male skeleton sliders will be plunging down the 1980 Olympic ice track at 9.45 am (CET: 3,45 pm) the same day. The second women’s skeleton run takes place from 10.40 (CET: 4.40 pm), and the final men's skeleton heat starts at 11.30 local time (CET: 5.30 pm). This is followed by the women's bobsleigh race cancelled in Park City because of snow at 1.30 pm (17 December, 7.30 pm CET). Saturday, 18 December opens with the scheduled women's bobsleigh event at 9 am (CET: 3 pm), and the two-man bobsleigh follows at 1 pm (CET: 7 pm). The Viessmann FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Cup Tour 2010/2011 breaks for Christmas after the four-man bobsleigh, which starts at 9 am local time (CET: 3 pm) on Sunday, 19 December. The tour gets back up to speed next year in Innsbruck-Igls (Austria, 14-16 January 2011).
Date/Time Lake Placid
17 December, 3.00 pm
17 December, 9.00 am
17 December, 3.45 pm
17 December, 9.45 am
17 December, 7.30 pm
17 December, 1.30 pm
18 December, 3.00 pm
18 December, 9.00 am
Men's 2-man bobsleigh
18 December, 7.00 pm
18 December, 1.00 pm
19 December, 3.00 pm
19 December, 9.00 am
Men's 4-man bobsleigh
Last year's winners in Lake Placid
Lake Placid (RWH) Two for USA, two for Germany and one for Canada was the gold medal count after last year's bobsleigh and skeleton World Cup in Lake Placid. The US victories went to John Napier/Charles Berkeley in the two-man bobsleigh and to the future Olympic champions Steven Holcomb, Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler and Curtis Tomasevicz in the four-man sleigh. The Lake Placid gold was the first and is so far the only World Cup victory in the career of John Napier. The German team celebrated victories by Cathleen Martini and Romy Logsch in the women's bobsleigh, and Frank Rommel in the skeleton. 2006 Turin bronze medallist Mellisa Hollingsworth of Canada won the women's skeleton.
On the sidelines
Kerstin Szymkowiak (GER), Vancouver Olympic silver medallist in the women's skeleton, is a mum after giving birth to daughter Noalie on 10 September 2010. The 2005 European champion had successfully completed her degree in sports shortly before the happy event. Kerstin Szymkowiak and husband Philippe, who is masseur to the Swiss national bobsleigh team, have been living in Switzerland since the summer of 2008. (RWH)
John Napier (USA), tenth in the two-man bobsleigh at the Vancouver Olympics, broke with tradition in the Park City World Cup. After wearing the same knee-length American flag socks in every race to date, Napier, who came overall fourth in the four-man event last season, was in socks he bought during his six-month deployment with the army in Afghanistan. "They are really comfortable, really warm and don't get soaking wet," he said in praise of his new fashion in an interview published by the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. "What's comfortable, wear it." The bobsleigh pilot from Lake Placid was sixth in Park City, his best two-man result in just over a year after a fifth in Cesana (Italy) last December. Maybe this was the start to a new ritual before chasing World Cup success on his home track on Mount Van Hoevenberg. (RWH)
Edward Eagan (USA), who won gold in William Fiske's four-man bobsleigh at the 1932 Winter Olympics, holds an Olympic record. He is the only athlete in Olympic history ever to win gold in both the Summer and the Winter Games – in two disciplines. Eagan was light heavyweight boxing champion in the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, and went on to win gold in the four-man bobsleigh in the Winter Olympics twelve years later. At that time, the riders were only there for extra weight to increase the sleigh's speed. Unlike today, there was no call for push athletes. (RWH)
Janine Flock (AUT), bronze medallist in the 2010 Junior World Championships, achieved her best placing to date in a World Cup race when she came eighth in Park City. This was the first top ten placing in the Viessmann FIBT Bob & Skeleton World Cup Tour 2010/2011 for the four-time Austrian national champion in skeleton, who came 13th in Whistler and 12th in Calgary in her debut season. The 21-year-old is the first female skeleton athlete to compete in the World Cup for the Alpine republic since Alexandra Grünberger in the 2004/2005 season. The best World Cup placing ever achieved by an Austrian in the women's skeleton was a fourth by Astrid Ebner in Igls in December 1999. Ebner went on to come fifth in the 2000 World Championships, also in Igls. (RWH)