IBSF Preview Bobsleigh - Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018
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Women’s bobsleigh set to make its fifth Olympic appearance
PyeongChang (RWH): PyeongChang will see Olympic medals being awarded in the women’s bobsleigh for the fifth time to date. The women’s bobsleigh was first added to the Olympic programme for Salt Lake City (USA) in 2002. The first gold medal in the sport’s history was awarded to Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers (USA), who were able to celebrate in front of a home crowd.
In the years that followed, Team USA claimed a further two silver and two bronze medals, meaning that they have managed to finish on the women’s bobsleigh podium in all four Olympic competitions to date. The most successful US athlete in women’s bobsleigh is Elana Meyers Taylor, who won Olympic bronze in Vancouver (CAN) in 2010 with pilot Erin Pac and Olympic silver as a pilot with Lauryn Williams at Sochi 2014. She now has her sights set on a gold medal in PyeongChang. Her team mate Jamie Greubel Poser is one of the most successful athletes to take to the Olympic track to date. The athlete won the World Cup race in PyeongChang and was also fast in training so far.
Gold at the last two Olympic Games has gone to Canada. Kaillie Humphries/Heather Moyse claimed the top spot in both Vancouver (CAN) in 2010 and Sochi (RUS) in 2014. Humphries, the overall winner at this year's World Cup, could potentially take the triple in PyeongChang, though without Heather Moyse this time around. After making her comeback following a three-year break, Moyse once again qualified for Canada's Olympic team, but in PyeongChang she will be behind pilot Alysia Rissling. ©RWH2018
Canada’s Justin Kripps tops the list of favourites in the 2-man bobsleigh
Local hero Yunjong Won is the major unknown
PyeongChang (RWH): When discussing the favourites for the 2-man bobsleigh in PyeongChang, it’s impossible to ignore Justin Kripps. In the Olympic season, the Canadian pilot never finished lower than fourth place in the World Cup, finished on the podium at five out of eight races and also won the overall standings with aplomb. His team mate Chris Spring, who finished third in the overall World Cup, is also among the potential candidates for a medal, along with the three pilots from the German team – especially World Champion Francesco Friedrich.
Latvia’s athletes also have their sights set on a top-three finish. Four years ago, Oskars Melbardis found himself in the spotlight, though he has now lost his role as favourite in favour of a younger athlete set to appear in PyeongChang. Oskars Kibermarnis finished fourth overall in the 2-man bobsleigh World Cup and also claimed second place at the trial race at the Olympic Sliding Centre in March 2017.
Local hero Yunjong Won of Korea is the major unknown for the Olympic men’s bobsleigh events. The overall winner of 2015 World Cup, who finished third in last year’s competition, only competed in three World Cup races this season as he decided to dedicate his time to training at the Olympic Sliding Centre in PyeongChang. ©RWH2018
World Champion Johannes Lochner leads favourites for the 4-man bobsleigh
PyeongChang (RWH): For bobsleigh pilot Johannes Lochner of Germany, the last twelve months have been the most successful of his career. In 2017, the 27-year-old athlete won gold in the 4-man bobsleigh at the World Championships in Königssee, sharing the title with team mate Francesco Friedrich who finished with the same time. This victory was followed by four World Cup wins, the European Championship title and a strong victory in the overall World Cup for the Olympic season. Johannes Lochner is consequently one of the top favourites to win the 4-man bobsleigh at the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
His main competitors come from his own camp. Francesco Friedrich and Nico Walther (both GER), second and third in the overall World Cup standings, are also tipped to secure a medal.
However, like in the 2-man bobsleigh, teams from Canada and Latvia are also keen to get a look-in in the 4-man event. Justin Kripps of Canada, who secured two silvers in the 4-man event this season, missed out on the World Cup top three by just a single point.
On the Latvian team, Oskars Melbardis just had the edge in the 4-man bobsleigh World Cup and will arrive in PyeongChang after finishing fifth in the overall standings. Oskars Kibermanis, on the other hand, finished in third at the World Cup finale and Olympic trials in March 2017.
Team USA are also making a hotly anticipated appearance with three pilots qualified to compete in the 2-man and 4-man races. However, they will be appearing without Steven Holcomb, who passed away unexpectedly in April. ©RWH2018
YOG stars taking to the stage at the Winter Games in PyeongChang
PyeongChang (RWH): Seven athletes, six countries, one thing in common: Codie Bascue (USA), Andreea Grecu (ROU), Oskars Kibermanis (LAT), Mica McNeill (GBR), Benjamin Maier (AUT), Rudy Rinaldi (MON) and Mihai Tentea (ROU) all began their Olympic careers at the Youth Winter Olympic Games (YOG).
At the first ever Games in Innsbruck (AUT) in 2012, medals were awarded to Mica McNeill (silver in the women’s bobsleigh), Benjamin Maier and Rudy Rinaldi (silver and bronze in the 2-man bobsleigh). In fourth place, Oskars Kibermanis only just missed out on the podium at the event while Codie Bascue finished in seventh.
In 2012, the Junior World Champion Andreea Grecu was the brakewoman for Ana Constantin, the sister of her current pilot Maria Constantin. The pair finished sixth in Innsbruck.
In Lillehammer (NOR) in 2016, the U23 European Champion Mihai Tentea competed in the YOG in the monobob. In 2018, he will be behind the steering ropes in PyeongChang, competing in the 2-man bobsleigh. ©RWH2018
Experienced Olympians and newcomers on the starting line in PyeongChang
PyeongChang (RWH): While some bobsleigh athletes will be making their Olympic début at the Winter Games in PyeongChang, others will be drawing on their extensive experience.
The pilots in the women’s bobsleigh are the perfect balance between newbies and old hands. While PyeongChang will be the first Winter Games for ten of the pilots, the other ten have already competed in the past. Heather Moyse, a brakewoman from Team Canada, has the most Olympic experience. After winning gold in 2010 and 2014, PyeongChang will be her fourth appearance at an Olympic Games. Heather Moyse made her début in Turin (ITA) back in 2006, when she and her pilot Helen Upperton only just missed out on an Olympic medal in fourth place.
In the men’s events, the two most experienced Olympians are both brakemen about to compete in their fifth Olympic Games. Kevin Kuske of Germany became Olympic Champion in the 4-man event with his pilot André Lange in Salt Lake City (USA) in 2002 and has since won a total of four Olympic golds. In PyeongChang, the field’s most successful Olympic medallist will be on the squad of pilot Nico Walther.
Canada’s Lascelles Brown also competed in 2002, when he was a brakeman for Winston Watt of Jamaica, where Brown was born. Lascelles Brown then switched to Canada and competed in 2006 (with Pierre Lueders), 2010 and 2014 (with Lyndon Rush). ©RWH2018
U23 European Champion Mihai Tentea is youngest bobsleigh pilot in the field
PyeongChang (RWH): At the age of just 19, Mihai Tentea of Romania will be the youngest bobsleigh pilot at the Olympics in PyeongChang. The 19-year-old is the U23 European Champion in the 2-man and 4-man event and also won silver in the U23 rankings in the 2-man event at the 2018 World Championships in St. Moritz (SUI).
In PyeongChang, the Romanian athlete will be the only bobsleigh athlete to have also appeared at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer. Back then, Mihai Tentea only just missed out on a medal, finishing fourth in the monobob.
When combined with his brakeman Nicolae Daroczi, who is also 19, Romania’s 2-man team are a lot younger than many of the experienced athletes in the field. Four-time Olympic champion Kevin Kuske is 39 while Lascelles Brown of Canada is 43. ©RWH2018
Medallists from Olympic trials in PyeongChang
Junior World Champion Andreea Grecu brakewoman for pilot Maria Constantin
PyeongChang (RWH): The Junior World Champion Andreea Grecu of Romania will be acting as brakewoman for pilot Maria Constantin at the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang. The 24-year-old was a mainstay in Maria Constantin’s sledge for a long time before switching to the steering ropes in 2016. However, Andreea Grecu frequently switches back to the brake position.
At the 2018 IBSF Junior World Championships in St. Moritz, Andreea Grecu/Florentina Iusco became the second Romanian team to win the title. Their fellow countrywomen Maria Spirescu/Viorica Țigău won gold at the inaugural event in 2005. ©RWH2018
World Champion Joshua Bluhm misses out on a spot in Germany’s Olympic team
Olympic silver medallist Alexander Rödiger to race with Nico Walther
PyeongChang (RWH): The German Bobsleigh, Luge and Skeleton Federation (BSD) has decided to remove brakeman Joshua Bluhm from its Olympic team for strategic reasons. The BSD announced its decision in a press release shortly before the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. The report explained that the decision was not based on the 4-man bobsleigh World Champion’s performance but on “problems with the atmosphere” on pilot Johannes Lochner’s squad.
Christian Poser will replace Joshua Bluhm on Johannes Lochner’s squad in the 4-man event. Poser will also be racing with Nico Walther in the 2-man event.
Joining the squad in PyeongChang is Alexander Rödiger, who won silver in the 4-man bobsleigh with André Lange at the 2010 Olympics and gold in the 2013 and 2015 World Championships with Maximilian Arndt. At the World Cup finale in Königssee, the 32-year-old won gold as part of Nico Walther’s squad and is now set to assume the same role at the Winter Olympic Games. ©RWH2018
Following in the footsteps of Cool Runnings with Mr Cool Bolt
PyeongChang (RWH): The appearance by Jamaica’s 4-man bobsleigh team at the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary (CAN) provided the story for the legendary film Cool Runnings. Two athletes are now making similar headlines 30 years later in PyeongChang (KOR), where they will be Jamaica’s first ever Olympic team in the women’s bobsleigh.
Unlike their inexperienced male team mates from 1988, pilot Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian and her brakewoman Carrie Russell have already been competing in professional sports for a long time. Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian, whose father is from Jamaica, began as a bobsleigh pilot on Team USA. She and Lolo Jones finished 11th in Sochi in 2014 and third in the overall World Cup in 2015. In her former career as a sprinter, Carrie Russell won the 2013 World Championships in Moscow as part of Jamaica’s 4x100-metre relay team.
The Jamaican sledge also carries a very illustrious name: Mr Cool Bolt in homage to Jamaica’s sprinting star Usain Bolt. Jamaica’s eight-time Olympic champion is a big fan of the island’s women’s bobsleigh team. ©RWH2018
Switzerland’s twin bobsleigh
PyeongChang (RWH): Eveline and Rahel Rebsamen from Switzerland not only share their love of bobsleigh, but will also be sharing their room in the PyeongChang athletes’ village and their place on the Olympic starting line. The 23-year-old twins are the brakewomen for bobsleigh pilot Sabina Hafner. However, there is one small but key difference between the two: Rahel has been named as brakewoman for the Olympic race while Eveline is lined up as a replacement.
“It was tough at first,” said Eveline Rebsamen in a report on langenthalertagblatt.ch. “However, the fact that my sister got the spot instead makes things easier.”
The pilot is also joining in on the fun in the twin bobsleigh: Sabina Hafner has a twin sister, too.
After the Winter Games, Sabina Hafner – who is celebrating a successful comeback in PyeongChang after several years away from the sport – will retire from bobsleigh for good. The Rebsamen twins are then planning to make the women’s bobsleigh a family affair. Eveline is keen to attend a bobsleigh school to retrain as a pilot and share the sleigh with her sister Rahel in future. ©RWH2018
On the sidelines
Beat Hefti (SUI) appeared in his last major race when Whistler (CAN) hosted the World Cup tour in November. As announced in a report in Neue Züricher Zeitung newspaper, the bobsleigh pilot has now retired as an athlete.
The Swiss athlete, who celebrated his 40th birthday at the beginning of February, is one of the most successful athletes in bobsleigh history. He began his career as a brakeman for pilot Marcel Rohner, winning silver in the 1999 World Championships and overall World Cup victory in the 4-man bobsleigh in 2000. With Martin Annen, he won the overall World Cup several times and three World Championship bronze medals (2002 in the 2-man event, 2006 in the 2-man and 4-man event). As the brakeman for Ivo Rüegg, Beat Hefti won the 2007 World Championships in the 2-man event in St. Moritz (SUI).
Beat Hefti then switched to the steering ropes and achieved his biggest success in the 2-man bobsleigh with four European Championship titles, overall World Cup victory in 2009, World Championship silver in 2013 and World Championship bronze in 2016. At Sochi 2014, the Swiss athlete won the silver medal in the 2-man bobsleigh. ©RWH2018
Anja Schneiderheinze (GER), who won gold at the 2006 Olympics as the brakewoman for Sandra Kiriasis, completed her IBSF jury exam at the World Cup finale in Königssee in January 2018. After falling pregnant and giving birth to a son in spring 2017, the 2016 World Champion ended her career as an athlete but will now stay involved in bobsleigh. In future, she and her colleagues on the IBSF jury will help to make sure that all IBSF races comply with the rules. ©RWH2018
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