Silver goes to Johannes Lochner, Nico Walther wins bronze and announces retirement
Altenberg (RWH) Francesco Friedrich has defended his title of World Champion in the 4-man bobsleigh. At the 2020 BMW IBSF World Championships in Altenberg, the Olympic Champion has celebrated his third consecutive win in the 4-man event.
From a sporting thriller on the first day of World Championship action – when a mere 0.09 seconds separated the top five teams – the final day turned out to be an even more tense sequel: After the third run, the teams of Francesco Friedrich, Nico Walther and Johannes Lochner (all GER) led the field – separated by just a single hundredth of a second lead for the two sleds tied in first place: Friedrich and Walther.
During the final heat, Friedrich and his team of Candy Bauer, Martin Grothkopp and Alexander Schueller pushed 0.05 seconds ahead to win World Championship gold in the 4-man bobsleigh. Silver went to the European Champion Johannes Lochner with Florian Bauer, Christopher Weber and Christian Rasp. Nico Walther with Paul Krenz, Joshua Bluhm and Eric Franke (0.23 seconds back) ended up with bronze. After the race, the 2018 Olympic Silver medallist announced his retirement.
One team that did not appear on the final day was that of Canada’s Justin Kripps, Ryan Sommer, Cameron Stones and Benjamin Coakwell. Pilot Kripps, who was tied in fourth place with Friedrich after the second run, pulled a muscle during his start, which meant he was no longer able to compete.
Fourth place at the World Championships in Altenberg went to Oskars Kibermanis (LAT) with Lauris Kaufmanis, Davis Springis and Matiss Miknis ahead of the Austrians Benjamin Maier/Marco Rangl/Markus Sammer/Danut Moldovan. The Czech team of Dominik Dvořák with Dominik Suchý, Jan Šindelář and Jakub Nosek celebrated their best World Championship result by far in sixth place. ©RWH2020
Francesco Friedrich (GER, 2018 Olympic Champion, 2017, 2019 and 2020 World Champion)
“Today has just been crazy, simply unbelievable. The track is lined with fans from top to bottom. Today could not have been better for us. We stood with the sled in the garage yesterday and made a few adjustments. We also looked at our runs again. And we were rewarded – an unbelievable team effort from us.”
Johannes Lochner (GER, 2017 World Champion, overall winner of the 2019 World Cup)
“I think this is in the top three for us after the World Championships in Königssee and the Olympics. We’ll remember this for the rest of our lives. This is why you become an athlete. Of course, a few hundredths of a second quicker would have been lovely. But we couldn’t keep up with Team Friedrich at the start. It’s sensational how the timings ended up.”
Nico Walther (GER, silver at the 2018 Olympics, runner-up in the 2015 World Championships)
“My tears were tears of joy. We had the toughest season of our whole career. To stand here with a medal at the World Championships is just a dream. Altenberg was a very special World Championships for me as they will be my last.”
Photos: IBSF / Viesturs Lacis