Altenberg (RWH) World Championship bronze in the 4-man bobsleigh was the final: Directly after the 4-man race at the BMW IBSF World Championships in Altenberg, bobsleigh pilot Nico Walther (GER) announced his retirement. "Bronze feels like gold for us today after a very difficult season", said Nico Walther in an IBSF interview after the race. The bobsleigh pilot had suffered a spinal injury in a training crash ahead of the season and therefore missed the first races of the BMW IBSF World Cup. "I felt different after that. For the first time in my career I felt fear of sliding and of the speed“, Walther confessed. „So I think it’s time to go.“
Nico Walther started his career in icetrack sports as a luge athlete. With Nico Grünneker he became Junior World Champion in the doubles' event in 2009 and 2010. One year later he switched to the sport of bobsleigh and won the European Cup overall rankings in 2-man bobsleigh, 4-man bobsleigh as well as in combination already in 2014. Nico Walther then made his World Cup debut in the winter of 2014/2015 with five podium places, including a victory in the 4-man bob. At the World Championships in Winterberg, he won silver in the big sled at the end of the season, the first of four World Championship medals.
At the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang (KOR) Nico Walther won Olympic silver in the 4-man bob - behind team-mate Francesco Friedrich (GER) and tied with the home team of pilot Yunjong Won (KOR).
In the BMW IBSF World Cup Nico Walther stood on the podium 28 times, including nine World Cup victories. In the overall World Cup standings he made it to the top three six times, and in 2016 he was the overall World Cup winner in the combined ranking of 2-man and 4-man bob.
In addition to his sporting successes, Nico Walther was appreciated by his team colleagues, the athletes from all over the world and also the media as a very likeable person and fair sportsman. "Farewell to my good friend Nico Walther, who announced his retirement last night. What a fantastic competitor and a very humble guy", wrote British pilot Lamin Deen on Twitter. "Sport is not only about being a fierce competition, it's also having the ability to be a likable individual or team."
IBSF interview with Nico Walther at Facebook
Photos: IBSF / Viesturs Lacis, Charlie Booker, Eugen Eslage